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Mexico start U24 friendly tour with win over Romania

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Mexico got a 1-0 victory over Romania to start their friendly tour in the right way.

Mexico U23 v Romania U23 - International Friendly Photo by Javier Montano/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Mexico started their friendly campaign well with a 1-0 win over Romania. It wasn’t pretty at times and Mexico was dominated for large stretches, but they improved after a poor first half to get the victory against a European side that looks to be the toughest of their three game friendly tour in Marbella, Spain. Mexico will now face Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, June 8th, also in Marbella.

Mexico came out with a starting lineup that included Jose Juan Macias and Alexis Vega, but had some notable changes like Johan Vasquez being on the bench. So much experimenting meant that Romania took control of the match early. Mexico’s goalkeeper Luis Malagon had to come up with a save on a shot off the left side. Later off of a corner kick, Malagon had to make another save when a Mexican defender deflected the ball. almost knocking in an own goal. At the middle of the half, Mexico finally started gaining possession as Romania stopped dominating them. Yet Mexico wasn’t creating any opportunities. Finally Mexico had their first chance in the 33rd minute with a shot from outside the area that went wide from Jairo Torres. Romania almost made Mexico pay when they entered the area, but the cross in didn’t find a single player. Mexico had a good opportunity off a free kick when the header was sent into the area but cleared off by the Romanian defense. The last minutes of the half had Mexico finally controlling the possession as Romania faltered a little bit, but they were still solid on defense. The first half ended and although Mexico had finished better, overall they were the inferior team in very poor performance as a match.

The second half started with Mexico coming out with the same players. Mexico started well and had the best chance of the game to that point when Fernando Beltran took a long range shot that hit the post. Mexico continued to be the better side as they played a lot better than in the first half. Malagon made a big mistake when he cleared a ball straight into a Romanian player and the ball ended with a free kick from outside the area. Luckily for Mexico, the free kick shot went just wide. Mexico made their first move by subbing out Jairo Torres, Marcel Ruiz, and Fernando Beltran for Jesus Ricardo Angulo, Alejandro Zendejas, and Alan Cervantes. Mexico then got a counter attack and Alexis Vega found Jesus Ricardo Angulo, who got a good left footed shot that was slightly deflected past Romania’s goalkeeper Marian Aioani for the 1-0 lead. Mexico had improved, and the goal had been deserved. Minutes later it looked like once again Luis Malagon had back problems and had to be treated on the field. Romania had a free kick and almost scored off it, but Malagon was able to make a save with some trouble. Romania looked to have picked things up looking for that tying goal. Mexico came close again with a cross into the area that forced Aioani to clear the ball. Mexico then subbed out Alexis Vega for Erick Sanchez. Mexico had a chance in the last minutes when Macias got the ball in the area but his shot was blocked by a Romanian defender, wasting a great chance. In the last minute, Romania got a dangerous free kick but the cross into the area went wide and Mexico held on for the win.

Mexico got a good result, although their performance wasn’t the greatest. With a lot of players being tested, it looks like Coach Jaime Lozano’s gamble to still look at players paid off. Romania was a tough European side and looks to be the toughest match out of the three. Mexico will need to improve on the offense, and also some players who missed out on the CONCACAF U23 Championship should improve their play if they want a chance to make the final Olympic team. Players like Beltran looked to take advantage, but others like Jairo Torres and Marcel Ruiz didn’t. Mexico will now play against Saudi Arabia on June 8th and close out in a match against Australia on June 12th.