Mexico defeated Japan 3-1 to get the bronze medal in the Olympic Games, their second ever in history. Mexico got revenge from way back in 1968 in Mexico City where Mexico lost the bronze medal against Japan. Now with Japan as hosts, it was Mexico who got the medal after a great game even when both teams looked tired after their extra time matches in the semifinals. Mexico had a great tournament in which Coach Jaime Lozano would step down after making a historic run.
The first half started with the return of Diego Lainez to the starting linuep as Mexico hoped to get vengeance from 1968. Lainez would be the first to have an opportunity but his shot was deflected. Then after Alexis Vega got into the area, he was dropped by a foul by Waturu Endo and a penalty was awarded. Sebastian Cordova stepped up to take and placed a great left footed shot past Japan’s goalkeeper Kosei Tani for the 1-0 lead. Mexico started to sit back with Japan controlling the possession, but being very slow unlike their group stage game. Japan had a great opportunity when after a great back heel pass from Daichi Hayashi allowed Endo to get to the area, but Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made a great play by getting the ball off his feet. Then off of a free kick, Sebastian Cordova got a great cross into the area and Johan Vasquez made a great run to get to the ball and head the ball past Tani for the 2-0 score.
Japan responded with a play in the area, but Yuki Soma’s shot went wide. Later Hayashi would get a shot after a good run but Ochoa handled it well. Mexico kept having more possession as Japan couldn’t convert their possession to opportunities. Mexico got a good opportunity after stealing the ball, but Cordova pass into the area didn’t get to Lainez, who mistakenly went with the left foot instead of the right as he should’ve. Japan had another opportunity, but Ritsu Doan’s cross in the area was made by Ochoa. Mexico went to halftime with a strong lead in a vital game against a Japan team that looked tired.
The second half started with Japan needing to make changes by subbing out Soma for Reo Hatate. After a couple of even minutes, Japan had the best chance of the game for them when a cross into the area found a wide open Doan, but his header went wide. Mexico responded with a great run where Lainez found Cordova in the area, but his shot was saved by Tani. After a play in the area, Henry Martin had a shot that was deflected. In the play it looked like Lainez was injured, and he had to be subbed out for Uriel Antuna. On the ensuing corner kick, Alexis Vega rose to get a free header and score the 3-0 against a Japan team that was caught by surprise by the Lainez substitution. Mexico wasted an incredible opportunity when Antuna got into the area and had a one-on-one but his shot went wide. It was an incredible miss, more so because Cordova was coming into the area and was wide open in what would’ve been a tap in goal had Antuna seen him. Mexico then wasted another chance off of a counter attack when a pass by Vega was deflected into the path of Henry Martin, but his shot went wide in what should have been another easy goal. Japan then subbed in Kaouro Mitoma and Ayase Ueda for Hayashi and Yuta Nakayama.
Ueda had a good shot from outside the area, but Ochoa made another great save. Japan subbed out Ao Tanaka for Ko Itakura. Later Mitoma got into the area but a lob by him turned to a great save by Ochoa. Mitoma would get his revenge after making a great run and getting past Jorge Sanchez and into the area where he got a great left footed shot past Ochoa to make it 3-1. Mexico subbed out Alexis Vega and Sebastian Cordova for Roberto Alvarado and Fernando Beltran as they looked to close out the match. Japan then made their last move by subbing out Endo for Koji Miyoshi. Mexico made a great play when Antuna had a great run and then got a good cross into the area, but Alvarado mistimed his volley and couldn’t connect it well, wasting a great opportunity. Mexico then made their final moves by subbing out Henry Martin and Carlos Rodriguez for Eduardo Aguirre and Joaquin Esquivel. Japan came through with a big opportunity after a free kick when they surprised Mexico and Hatate got a wide open shot from outside the area, however it just went wide. Had it been closer, Ochoa wouldn’t have had a chance. Japan continued to pressure as Mexico scrambled to clear balls, but time was on their side. Japan came close with a cross into the area and Cesar Montes cleared the ball before a Japanese attacker got his shot blocked into the arms of Ochoa. It was the last opportunity and a minute later the whistle blew and Mexico made history with their second Olympic medal.
Mexico had an overall historically great tournament. While winning the Gold Medal in the 2012 Olympic Games might have made success a little expected the fact of the matter than in more than 100 years of Olympic Football, this is the only third tournament where Mexico had played in the Semifinals. The win today gives Mexico their second ever Olympic medal in a tournament where Mexico wasn’t favored. The tournament started with a great victory over France before their group stage loss to Japan and another win over South Africa. In the Quarterfinals, they gave the best performance by crushing a spirited South Korea team by 6-3. Mexico gave it their all and gave a great match in the Semifinals against a superior team in Brazil but fell in the penalty kick shootout. Then they bounced back to get revenge against host Japan, not only for 1968 but for the group stage. Mexico had a great tournament with great performances from players like Alexis Vega, Diego Lainez, Sebastian Cordova, Johan Vasquez, and from the reinforcement players in Guillermo Ochoa, Luis Romo, and Henry Martin. Coach Jaime Lozano steps down after the win, but he and this team have written the names in Mexican football history just as the Senior team are having troubles just prior to the start of World Cup qualification.