Mexico had a terrible start to their Pan American Games with a 0-0 tie against Panama. In the game against the weakest rival in the group stage, the result might have cost them their elimination if they don’t go on to get points against the tougher rivals left in the group (Ecuador, Argentina).
The first half started with Mexico having most of the possession, while Panama sat back and defended, going with sporadic counter attacks. Forward Jesus Godinez had most of the chances but was defended well by Panama. Mexico tried to open up Panama with long range shots but failed to any damage.
In a quick counter, Panama forced Brayton Vasquez to make a saving slide. In the counter attack, Panama had the best chance when Jose Hernandez did a terrible job going out for the ball and the header from the Panama player just went wide in what was a sure goal had it gone to the area.
A minute later, Mexico had a good chance off a free kick, but Godinez’s header wasn’t strong enough and thus was cleared out by the Panamanian defenders.
Mexico continued attacking but without much effectivity against a strong Panamanian defense. Jesus Godinez came close with a header but it was ruled offside. The in the final minutes, a great cross by Paolo Yrizar was whiffed by Godinez and fell to Pablo Lopez, who got off a left footed shot that forced a great save from Panama’s goalkeeper. The ball fell to Godinez, whose close range shot hit the post and the rebound was missed by a couple of Mexican attackers. It came to the final minute of the first half but Mexico was finally able to really trouble Panama.
The second half looked to be more of the same with Mexico going out on attack, while Panama defended. Panama’s keeper Samuel Baptista made a mistake and gave the ball to Mauro Lainez, whose shot went wide in a wasted opportunity. Godinez then had a ball fell in the area to him but his shot was blocked.
Later on, Godinez got to a header off a free kick but it also went wide. Mexico continued to pressure in a more constant way that in the first half but keep falling at the the Panamanian wall. Mexico also showed a lack of offensive ideas, something that has happen before under coach Jaime Lozano.
Mexico looked to improve offensively and took out Lainez for Ulisses Cardona and Francisco Venegas for Eric Cantu. But a terrible defensive display by Mexico almost gifted Panama an opportunity, but they couldn’t take advantage of it.
It looked like Jesus Godinez was brought down in the area but the ref waved off a call. Mexico later subbed on newly arrived Diego Abella (who came because of an injury to Eduardo Aguirre) to help in the offense but they still kept failing to create any danger. It looked like the Abella sub helped Mexico but it was too late to make that much impact as Mexico kept sending crosses for Panama’s tall defenders to head out.
In the final minutes, a shot from Godinez was saved and the rebound shot was also saved by the Panamanian defense. Then in the final play of the game, a Mexican player fell in the area and a penalty kick was given to Mexico. Jesus Godinez took it and wasted it by hitting the post, capping a terrible performance.
Once again under Coach Jaime Lozano, Mexico looked without offensive ideas against a Panamanian team that had a much better vision of what it wanted to do. Panama defended well as Mexico kept doing cross after cross that they cleared out. A failure to score in the last minute with a penalty kick is also a big hit mentally to a Mexican team that now will have their toughest test against Ecuador and Argentina. Still, Mexico might improve since it’s doubtful that either team will do the same strategy Panama had of bunkering in defense and counter attacking. But this sets a troubling picture for the Olympic qualifiers, which Lozano will also be in charge of.