Mexico had their ticket to the Toulon final in their hands, but a terrible mistake by Ismael Govea gave Japan the equalizer and the eventual pass on penalties. It was a return of the ghosts that haunt Mexico, as once again Mexico snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and then fell on a penalty shootout. Jose Hernandez, who supposedly was a good penalty kick stopper, didn’t came close to getting to any of Japan’s penalty kicks. Mexico will now face the loser of the Brazil vs Ireland semifinal for the third place game.
Mexico came out with the same lineup as they did against China, with the only difference being the return of Jesus Godinez for Eduardo Aguirre. It was Godinez who minutes in had an opportunity after Japan lost a ball, but his shot was blocked.
Mexico had a good start, but Japan also showed also be a dangerous threat with their speedy counters. Japan came close to scoring when Jose Hernandez misjudged a cross and had the ball hit the post while he struggled to handle it. It then didn’t take long for Japan to take control of the game, as expected.
Japan countered with a cross that Alan Mozo had to clear very close from the goalkeeper. Moments later, Japan had another chance, but the shot went straight into the keeper.
Halftime came with an even and somewhat boring match, but one in which Mexico did better than expected and Japan had the opposite reaction.
The second half started, and Japan had the first chance with a turn around shot that went straight to Hernandez. Mexico’s first chance of the second half would be key when Alan Mozo made a great cross and Jesus Godinez had an even better header to score the 1-0.
After the goal, Japan went all out and came close several times, Mexico being saved by a dubious offside call and by a clearance from Mozo.
But Japan would eventually equalize when a great shot by Japan hit the post and Yuki Soma got to the rebound and scored with a long range shot.
Mexico started playing more in the area, although not getting any clear shots. Then a great cross by Mozo was headed in by Eduardo Aguirre for the 2-1.
With Mexico looking firmly in the lead, Ismael Govea made a terrible mistake when he missed a chance to clear the ball and left Koki Ogawa alone for a one-on-one against Hernandez. He placed the shot past him and tied the game.
In the final play of the day, Japan’s keeper failed to get to the ball and it fell to Govea, whose shot was cleared off the line. Mexico had the ticket to the final in their hands but they let it go.
Mexico went to the penalty kick shootout and Eduardo Aguirre took the first one. He almost missed but got it through. Ogawa converted the first Japanese kick. Ulises Cardona came up and converted the second kick. Soma did the same with his kick. Pablo Lopez took the third penalty and placed it past the Japanese keeper, but Iwasaki did the same for Japan. Alan Mozo hit the post and missed the fourth kick. Naganuma’s shot was close to Hernandez but he failed to stop it. Sebastian Cordova scored it past the keeper but Hatate did the same and Mexico was eliminated. Once again predictably Mexico lost in a penalty shootout.
While Mexico gave overall it’s best performance, it still wasn’t enough. Worse yet, the loss was in typically dramatic fashion as Mexico took a late lead but it wasn’t enough to get the result. A bad job in keeping the ball in the final minutes along with a terrible mistake gave a lifeline for Japan to get the equalizer. Then once again, Mexico lost a shootout, and although Mexico was effective in converting most of their shots, the keeper did a bad job of stopping them. Mexico will now have to play for a third-place spot, but this result is a big disappointment, especially after the jump in quality from past games.