In a roller coaster of a performance, Mexico got their first three points off the tournament defeating Argentina 2-1. With only ten men and a disastrous end to the first half, Mexico came back to play one of the best 45 minutes in recent memory and got the win thanks to a great performance from Jesus Godinez, who found redemption after missing a last minute penalty kick in the game against Panama. With the win, Mexico does a 180 and goes from possibly being eliminated to be on top of the group, to needing only a tie in the final game against Ecuador to get to the knockout stages of the Pan American games.
Mexico went on the attack from the very first minute. Argentina countered and the game became very even. Then in the 11th minute, Paolo Yrizar was judged to have been brought down in the area and the ref gave a penalty kick to Mexico, This time Francisco Venegas (who wanted to take the penalty kick against Panama but his teammate Godinez took it from him) took the penalty kick and converted it for the 1-0.
Argentina reacted to the goal and a long range shot almost troubled Mexico’s keeper Jose Hernandez. The game suddenly became had both sides having sharing a lot of the possession.
Later on, Augustin Urzi was allowed time and he took a left footed shot that Hernandez had to make a great save to stop. Argentina seemed to have gained the upper hand, although Mexico came close when Yrizar’s pass to Pablo Lopez was just cut by Argentina’s keeper.
Off a free kick Argentina got the equalizer. A header took out most of Mexico’s defenders and Adolfo Gaich got the ball in the area and took a shot to score the 1-1.
Argentina was totally dominating and Gaich got off another shot in the area that Hernandez saved. In the final minute, a stupid mistake by Ismael Govea, who slapped an Argentina player, got him a red card and Mexico was down to 10. The firstt half ended with Mexico in total disarray.
The second half started with Mexico having an uphill battle. Off a counter, Mexico had a great chance but Ulises Cardona failed to get a good reception on a ball and then shot it straight to the goalkeeper.
With ten men, Mexico had to sit back and wait for a counter, while Argentina had the majority of the possession. Gaich had a great chance for Argentina when he was left wide open for a header but his header went wide.
Off a throw in, Paolo Yrizar almost made the goal of the tournament, as he was able to get off a bicycle kick shot that Argentina’s keeper, Facundo Cambeses, had to make a great save to stop.
Jesus Godinez came close to getting to a ball before Cambeses got to clear it and it looked like Mexico was having the best spell of the match.
Off a corner kick, Mexico’s defense almost made a mess of it and they had trouble clearing the ball before an Argentinean attacker could get to it. It looked like Mexico was starting to fade and Argentina was getting more possession.
Mexico then subbed on Marcel Ruiz and it looked to be more offensive. Shortly after, Jesus Godinez got brought down in the edge of the area and another penalty kick was given. Godinez took it trying to find redemption from his miss against Panama and he got it by converting the 2-1. Godinez had been the best player in the second half for Mexico and it was a deserved opportunity to get to take the penalty after Venegas got subbed out.
Argentina took control of the ball as Mexico had to sit back. Mexico continued defending heroically and Argentina didn’t have a clear chance after the penalty kick. Mexico won 2-1 after having the best 45 minutes since Jaime Lozano took over as coach of the U-23 team.
With the win, Mexico are now sitting in prime position to qualify. Because of the tie between Panama and Ecuador, Mexico will now only need a tie to get to the next stage, although it’s not enough to guarantee winning the group. Mexico had a great second half after it had complicated itself alone. They also gave Argentina some of their own medicine in a way after they had defeated Ecuador by a score of 3-2, also by going down to 10 men for most of the match.
Mexico will now face Ecuador on Sunday in their final group stage game. Mexico will face a tough test against Ecuador, who need a win to go through the next stage and who also have most of the team that finished in third place in the U-20 World Cup. Mexico should still have the advantage of having the older U-22 team and with the results at hand benefiting them. Moreover, both teams will go at each other knowing the results needed to go through as Panama and Argentina will not be played at the same time but earlier.