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Mexico battles back to get 2-1 win over Iceland

Mexico bounced back to get a 2-1 win over Iceland in the only friendly before the Nations League.

Iceland v Mexico Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

Mexico trailed but bounced back and overall were the better team in a 2-1 victory over Iceland. It initially looked like a repeat of the Wales friendly, as Mexico trailed with an early goal after having most of the possession. This time however Mexico improved and key substitutions were able to turn things around. Mexico will now travel to Denver where they will play against Costa Rica in the Semifinal of the Concacaf Nations League on Thursday.

The first half started with Mexico coming out with Diego Lainez from the start, even when he wasn’t called up for the Nations League. He, along with Edson Alvarez and Andres Guardado, were the only European based starters, as players like Hector Herrera, Hirving Lozano, and Jesus Corona all were on the bench, probably being saved for the Nations Leagues match on Thursday. Iceland had a good opportunity after Carlos Salcedo gave the ball away, but Alvarez was able to get the ball back by stopping a counter with a foul that the ref didn’t see. Mexico almost had a good opportunity when a long ball to Uriel Antuna was barely cut by Iceland’s goalkeeper Runar Runarsson. Then a cross into the area from Birkir Saevarsson turned into a shot that Edson Alvarez deflected past Mexico’s goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera for the 1-0 lead. It looked like an own goal, but it could also be ruled as a goal by deflection. The goal seemed to hurt Mexico, who had control of the match prior to the goal but didn’t after. After Mexico started to gain on possession, they got a shot from Carlos Rodriguez but it was easily saved by Runarsson. Later a cross into the area was headed by Henry Martin from close range, but once again Runarsson got the easy save. Mexico had a cross/shot from Antuna but it didn’t find either Martin or the goal, going wide. Just before halftime, Mexico had a good counter and a shot from Rodriguez, but again it went wide. Mexico improved after the goal and was the better side, but a similar situation had already happened in the Wales match.

The second half started with Mexico not making any substitution as they looked for a tie. After a couple of minutes Mexico had a chance when Martin got to a ball and found Lainez, but his shot was saved by Runarsson. Mexico had an incredible miss when off a cross into the area, an Icelandic defender lowered the ball right into the path of Hector Moreno but his shot was deflected a little by Runarsson and slowed down enough before an Icelandic defender cleared the ball almost off the line. Because of injury, Iceland had to sub out Aron Gunnarsson for Andri Baldursson. It took until the 60th minute when the game had to be stopped because of the infamous chant from the crowd. Mexico took the opportunity to sub out Carlos Salcedo, Jesus Gallardo, Carlos Rodriguez, and Jorge Sanchez for Hector Herrera, Hirving Lozano, Nestor Araujo, and Gerardo Arteaga.

Mexico then started to push Iceland into the area, as they gained complete control. They couldn't however break through the tough Icelandic defense. Then after after Mexico lost the ball trying to make a fancy play, it led to a counter attack on a two-on-one and forced Talavera to make a one handed save that almost was from outside the area, in what would have been a red card. Iceland went up a little more offensively, and it cost them big time. Mexico would steal a ball and get a two-on-one in which Lainez went fast into the area and then got a great left footed pass to Hirving Lozano who got past the defender, hitting a right footed shot past Rigurdsson to level the score at 1-1. Iceland subbed out Birkir Saevensson and Kolbeinn Sigborsson for Runar Sigursson and Sveinn Gudjohnsson. Mexico had a great chance when Lozano got into the area, but his cross was lost by Henry Martin. Then after Hector Herrera sent a pass to Martin, but he failed to get the ball. Herrera got it back and then sent a great cross into the area over Runarsson and to a wide open Hirving Lozano. Lozano went wide to head the ball from close range to give Mexico the 2-1 lead. Mexico subbed out Diego Lainez for Luis Rodriguez. Mexico then got a counter but Lozano’s shot was saved by Rugardsson. Later it was Herrera who got a shot from outside the area that went wide. The final whistle blew, and Mexico got their comeback win in their final match before the Nations League.

Mexico got a deserved win in their friendly against Iceland. They held most of the possession and were the most offensive team, although they suffered from an Icelandic team that was set up well defensively and who gave the team a lot of trouble physically. The best player of the night was Diego Lainez, and it’s surprising that he was left off the squad of the Nations League although after the match, Coach Gerardo Martino announced that Lainez would take the place of injured Erick Gutierrez. Also key was how the game turned with the substitutions, especially Hirving Lozano and Hector Herrera, who clearly are a level over most of the rest of the players. Mexico seemed to improve after a lackluster level of play for the March friendlies but they will have a tough task ahead as they start their very busy summer.