Mexico started the 2019 Toulon tournament with a win against Bahrain by a score of 2-0. Mexico was the better team all game but a great first half by Mexico was diminished by a bad second half where Mexico’s shooting accuracy went out the window. Mexico is now in second place of the group behind Ireland, who defeated China 4-1. Mexico will play their biggest game of the group stage on Thursday when they face Ireland.
The game started and it didn’t take long for Mexico to make themselves felt. A Paolo Yrizar shot got deflected into Sebastian Cordova’s path and his shot just went wide.
Off a corner kick, Isamel Govea was found alone in the area and he headed it past the Bahrain goalkeeper to score the 1-0.
Mexico had complete control and they would make another splash minutes after. A great cross by Alan Mozo and a terrible defensive display by Qatar allowed Jairo Torres to dive in the area and headed the ball for the 2-0.
Another shot by Cordova got deflected to a corner kick and in the ensuing corner kick a scramble in the area came close to the 3-0. Mexico then had a great counter after winning the ball but Jesus Godinez wasted it.
Bahrain started to get physical as they failed to compete football wise. As a result, Bahrain had it first chance when Cordova lost a ball and gave a counter attack but the shot went wide.
Off a free kick Mexico tried to make a cute play but instead gave the ball for a counter by Bahrain that got even worse when Erick Aguirre failed to cut the ball with a slide. A Bahrain attacker went alone and his shot hit the crossbar and luckily the rebound wasn’t shot well and fell to Mexico’s keeper Jose Hernandez.
A couple of minutes later it was Mexico who had the chance when Mozo went past a defender and had a great opportunity to cross. His cross fell to Jose Godinez, who headed it from near range and hit the crossbar. Godinez came close to scoring again when his header was saved by the goalkeeper, and in the rebound the ball fell to Mozo to cross it into the path of Godinez, who had to force his header and it went wide.
In the final minutes of the first half, a great pass by Mozo found a wide open Cordova, who failed to control the ball. Mexico, though, went into halftime in control of the game.
The second half started with a bad clash of heads between Jesus Angulo and a Bahrain player. Moments after, Bahrain come close to scoring when a terrible play by Jose Hernandez allowed the ball in the area alone before Jairo Torres cleared off the line.
Mexico seemed to be losing control of the game and coach Jamie Lozano subbed in Eduardo Aguirre and Fernando Beltran for Jose Godinez and Sebastian Cordova. Minutes in, Erick Aguirre had a great chance when was alone in the area but he headed the ball terribly and it went out.
Mexico’s chances kept coming, as Jairo Torres had another chance but his long range shot went wide. Arteaga looked to have been brought down in the area but the ref instead gave it a free kick.
Alan Medina was subbed on for a struggling Paolo Yrizar before a double mistake by Joaquin Esquievel allowed Qatar a chance that Hernandez was able to cut.
Mexico had another scramble in the area and Jairo Torres had another shot in the area that went wide. It was then substitute Alan Medina’s turn to miss when he forced the Bahrain keeper to a good save.
At the end, Mexico finished with a 2-0 but their terrible finishing left a somewhat bad feeling as Mexico only got to second place in their group behind Ireland.
While the win is a good start for Mexico, the bad display in the final third in the second half produced some worries, especially with Ireland now ahead of Mexico in the standings. That being said, the short time in the tournament between matches means that Mexico needs to play smartly, which is why they might not gone out with the best starting lineup. Mexico was also coming off a harsh 5-1 loss to the Netherlands, which mean getting their confidence back might take some time. Still, Bahrain improved a lot in the second half and Mexico failed to rise up to that challenge.
Also worrying is how some of the subs didn’t have the expected impact, most surprising being Alan Medina, who didn’t have a good game. Mexico will need to improve for the main match against Ireland on Thursday and coach Jaime Lozano will need to rise up and fix the problems, especially of keeping the rhythm going into the second half.