Mexico defeated China in the final group stage game by a score of 1-0, giving Mexico the ticket to the Semifinals after being the best second-placed group finisher. Mexico got 7 points, more than the 6 points by Portugal and France, which meant Mexico got the final ticket to the Semifinals. Mexico didn’t impress during the game and haven’t through the course of the tournament, although they were solid defensively against a China team that also needed the three points to advance to the next round.
The firstt half started with Mexico having virtually the same lineup as the last game except for two changes. The mistake that almost cost Mexico last tournament almost looked the same this time as China took a minute to threaten. China had the possession for the first minutes as Mexico had to scramble a couple of times to clear balls away.
China came close again from a corner kick, but it was Mexico who had the clearest chance when a pass in the area found Jairo Torres, whose shot was saved by the Chinese keeper.
Mexico came close once again when Paolo Yrizar had a close range shot saved by the keeper. Mexico then had more control of the ball, but not surprisingly by the lack of changes, they looked slow and lethargic and China was able to handle most of the offensive attacks from Mexico.
Mexico continued to attack but Eduardo Aguirre, who was one of the changes for this game, failed to make much of an impact, while Yrizar continued with the same level that had many questioning him why he was a starter all three games.
Halftime came and both Mexico and China had played a very even but poorly played first half.
The second half started and Mexico had a great chance that Eduardo Aguirre whiffed on. Mexico then had a free kick in which they did a trick play where Erick Aguirre shot straight into the Chinese goalkeeper.
Mexico looked a lot more dangerous than in the first half but they were still not getting it done. In a great play by Erick Aguirre, crossing the ball into the path of Eduardo Aguirre who whiffed on a sitter, the ball fell for Paolo Yrizar, who fell trying to shoot but was able to connect in the ground to score the 1-0.
Mexico continued to have possesion but once again the creativity in attack was lacking. Ronaldo Cisneros and Ulises Cardona got subbed on for Eduardo Aguirre and Jairo Torres. After a terrible mistake by a Chinese defender, Pablo Lopez was wide open but he made a terrible play and wasted his shot with his right foot and sent it wide.
China came back and a shot came close but hit the outside net. At the end, Mexico and China played to a tough final minutes with the Mexican defense scrambling a couple of times but they were able to hold on for the victory and the ticket to the semifinals.
Mexico will really need to raise its game to have any hope to do something in the Semifinals. Mexico will face Japan, a team that although lost their final game against Portugal, was one of the two sensations of the tournament, crushing Chile by a score of 6-1. Mexico will have a very tough task against a team overly superior to the ones they faced in the group stage and struggled with. Coach Jaime Lozano has his work cut out for him, especially with the struggles and his insistence of keeping the same lineup game after game. Still, the first objective in the tournament is completed and now it’s time to look for a new challenge, which after all is the main idea behind playing this tournament.