Mexico crumbled and lost their Semifinal match against Honduras on a penalty kick shootout. With a dominating performance and a great goal by Francisco Venegas squandered, Mexico once again showed terrible in-game management under coach Jaime Lozano against a CONCACAF team.
Like expected, the game started being a very physical affair. Eight minutes from the start, Aldo Cruz had to leave because of injury after a clash, and Kevin Alvarez had to be subbed on. Mexico reeled after the injury and Honduras tried to take advantage with some dangerous attacks. It wasn’t until the 18th minute that Mexico had a good chance when a long range shot by Francisco Venegas came close.
A couple of minutes later, Marcel Ruiz got the ball in the area but hit his shot straight at the keeper. Mexico came close again when a cross to Paolo Yrizar was cleared as Yrizar was brought down but the ref judged it to not be worthy of a penalty kick.
Mexico continued to dominate possession, but as expected, Honduras did a good job of sitting back and defending. Then after an Honduras attack ended up with Mexico getting the ball back, Francisco Venegas took a shot from his own half line to surprise the Honduras keeper and score a monster goal.
A couple of minutes later a yellow card was given to Honduras Aldo Fajardo for a foul that was identical to the one that got Ismael Govea red carded against Argentina. In the final minute (after a comically bad handball from Ricky Zapata) off a free kick, Venegas once again had a great long range shot, but this time the Honduras goalkeeper was able to make the save to preserve the 1-0 at halftime.
The second half started with Honduras moving up in attack, while Mexico tried to take advantage of that. A couple of minutes in, Honduras had a good attack when a low cross went dangerously through the area but no Honduras player was in the area.
Honduras start gaining possession of the ball, as it looked like Mexico was going to sit back. Coach Jaime Lozano then made a strange substitution by subbing out Francisco Venegas, who had been arguably the man of the match, for Mauro Lainez. Almost immediately, Honduras had a great shot that Johan Vasquez had to save by deflecting it to a corner kick.
Then an awful mistake gave Honduras the equalizer. Lainez did a terrible short pass to Joaquin Esquivel that gave Jose Reyes the opportunity to steal the ball. He proceeded to get past Pablo Lopez before releasing a thunderous shot past Jose Hernandez for the 1-1. The substitute was an immediate result of Lozano’s substitution as Lainez came in for Venegas.
After another mistake in the area that almost gave Honduras the ball in the area, it was clear that Honduras had the upper hand and Mexico was in complete nosedive. In the final minute of play, Honduras had another chance in the area but the shot was slow and wide.
In extra time, Mexico started well with a close cross into the area. Lozano then subbed out a tired Marcel Ruiz for Eric Cantu. Ruiz had been the key offensive playmaker, although he did look tired when he was substituted.
The early possession from Mexico suddenly turned into a more even match. Honduras made a great pass in the area that Johan Vasquez had to slide to save, and the ball fell to Carlos Pineda, whose shot just went wide.
Moments later, Zapata brought down Yrizar, who got his second yellow card and Honduras went down to 10.
The second extra time started with Mexico having the upper hand of having 11 against 10. Even with the advantage, Mexico didn’t seem to find a way, and if anything they looked more disorganized and desperate. Then in a battle in the midfield, Jesus Godinez got a straight red card after crashing into an Honduras player. While the foul didn’t look like a straight red card, Godinez had already a yellow card and would have been sent off regardless.
A couple of minutes later, Brayton Vasquez got his second yellow card after dropping an Honduras player in a terrible mistake. Mexico had not only given back the advantage to Honduras but given them a 10 vs 9 situation. The red card was also Mexico’s third in 4 games. The last minutes would have Mexico holding on in the back, this after a first half in which Mexico had been in complete control. Mexico eventually held on for penalty kicks.
The penalty kicks started with Ismael Govea taking the first one for Mexico and hitting it straight to the keeper in a terrible kick. Missing the kick deflated the team and it also added to a terrible tournament for the Atlas player. Douglas Martinez took the first one for Honduras and converted it. Johan Vasquez took his and converted it, proving to be one of the best surprises for Mexico in the tournament. Vuelto took his for Honduras and converted it. Pablo Lopez, who started well in the game but deflated after the Lainez substitution, hit the post and doomed Mexico. Reyes scored his for Honduras with an even better shot than his goal. Oscar Macias converted his, but Denil Maldonado scored his and Honduras eliminated a Mexico team that will now have to settle for a third place game.
The result is a huge failure for coach Jaime Lozano. While it’s true that Mexico didn’t get to call up their best players because of Liga MX starting at the same time, it had a squad to do better against the two CONCACAF teams it faced. More-so, Lozano’s team did a bad job of playing this game. They were dominating completely at halftime and yet they allowed Honduras to get back into the game and even to gain the upper hand. Lozano’s substitutions didn’t pay off and may have hampered the team.
More worrying should be the lack of offensive weapons this team has faced all summer. In the Toulon Tournament, where Mexico finished in third place, they only scored three goals in a group stage where they had Bahrain and China. In the tournament so far, three of their five goals have arrived from penalty kicks and only the half field golazo from Venegas came from open play. The way Mexico had no offensive ideas after Honduras went down a man is more than worrisome.
At the end, it also seemed like Uruguayan Coach Fabian Coito had a better of Lozano. With the Olympic qualifiers fast approaching, this won’t likely be the last time Coito sees Lozano, and judging by what we saw in this tournament, Mexico won’t be going into said qualifiers feeling too confident.