Mexico got a key result with their third away win of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, battling back against a Jamaica team that ended the match with only 10 players to get a 2-1 win. Mexico was the better team from the start, but couldn’t make it count in the score line for much of the match. A terrible foul left Jamaica down a player, but a bad mistake from Mexico allowed them to take the lead. In the end however, Mexico continued to pressure and with two late goals were able to break through and get the victory. Mexico now closes a three game away streak and returns home for matches against Costa Rica and Panama.
The first half started with Gerardo Martino having various surprises in the starting lineup. While Raul Jimenez stayed in Mexico because of injury and Hirving Lozano was suspended, “Tata” still surprised fans by going with an all Liga MX up front with Alexis Vega, Uriel Antuna, and Rogelio Funes Mori. Also surprising was having Johan Vasquez, who had stood out during his time in Genoa, on the bench for Hector Moreno. More worrying was going with the midfield duo of Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado. While both players are playing in La Liga, they aren’t the fastest players and because of it they suffered in the match against Canada in Estadio Azteca. Playing against Jamaica in Kingston seemed like a dubious place to start again with the duo. Mexico started playing well but four minutes in they had a setback when Jorge Sanchez fell after getting injured, and had to be subbed out for Luis Rodriguez. Mexico had a great opportunity when Herrera made a great pass, but Jesus Gallardo did a terrible job of running to the ball and it went past him and wide. Mexico then had a another great pass from Herrera, this time to Rodriguez but he incredibly bounced the ball off of himself as he tried to lower it and sent it wide. Mexico had the best opportunity of the match to that point when a great cross from Antuna found a wide open Vega, who got off a volley that forced Jamaica’s goalkeeper Andre Blake to make a great save to send it out for a corner kick. On the corner kick Mexico once again came very close when Herrera rose to get a header, but it went inches wide from going into the net. There was controversy when Funes Mori fell in the area and replays showed that he was pushed but even with VAR (which just started to be used in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers this year) the referee decided not to give the penalty. Mexico continued to dominate possession, but they started to slow down on the attacks while Jamaica sat back. Although Jamaica were nowhere close to getting counter attacks, Mexico was done with creating dangerous chances. Jamaica then had their first chance when Michael Antonio got into the area and got off a shot that Moreno made a great slide to stop. A minute later, the ball fell to Guardado before Damion Lowe ran into him and made a terrible tackle. The referee wouldn’t call a foul, but they went to VAR where replays showed it was a incredibly rough tackle that deserved a red. After seeing it in VAR, the ref decided to correctly red card Lowe, leaving Jamaica with 10 players. The referee then blew the whistle and although Mexico had dominated the match, they had failed to score or create many chances.
The second half started with Jamaica subbing out Lamar Walker for Liam Moore. Antonio got open outside of the area, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner kick. On another corner kick, Nestor Araujo headed the ball high and into the path of Funes Mori, who tried to lower the ball and instead gave a pass to Jamaican attacker Daniel Johnson. Johnson then got off a left footed shot past Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa for the 1-0 lead. It was a total surprise for Mexico and everybody watching, as Jamaica was gifted a goal by Mexico, just as it happened in Estadio Azteca. It might have been even worse as Funes Mori quite literally end up giving a perfect assist to the Jamaican attacker. Mexico tried to get past the huge psychological impact of trailing and of taking advantage of them having one more player. Needing to go on to the attack, Mexico subbed out Andres Guardado for Diego Lainez, a move that might have needed to be done earlier as Guardado and Herrera had a similar function, making one redundant. A free kick taken by Vega went through the Jamaican defense and bounced off Antuna’s back before Blake was able to get to the ball. After Lainez made a great throw in that found Antuna, he crossed into the area but the ball reached Funes Mori. Funes Mori however whiffed on the shot, wasting a great chance. Later a pass into the area from Lainez found Antuna, but his left footed shot went wide. Jamaica then subbed out Kemar Lawrence for Greg Leigh. Mexico had pushed Jamaica into their area as the Lainez substitution had paid off. Taking of advantage of this, Mexico decided to make three substitutions. Mexico subbed out Jesus Gallardo, Rogelio Funes Mori (who had an awful match), and Uriel Antuna for Gerardo Arteaga, Henry Martin, and Jesus Corona. Jamaica countered by subbing out Michail Antonio for Andre Gray. Mexico continued to pressure more against a Jamaican side that was completely bunkering, as they were down a player and completely tired. Jamaica subbed out Javain Brown for Alvas Powell. Corona started to make better passes and create danger. It would finally pay off when Corona got a cross into the area that allowed Alexis Vega to get a header that Blake couldn’t handle, bobbling it right into the path of Henry Martin, who connected with his chest into the goal line for the 1-1 tie. It was a tie that was a long time coming, but it was a brilliant combination play between Corona and Vega that a good center forward like Martin took advantage of. Mexico knew they had to strike right now and immediately went on the attack after the restart. A minute later, a great combination play by Jesus Corona found Carlos Rodriguez, who then made a cross to a wide open Alexis Vega, who got off a left footed volley past Blake for the 2-1 lead. Vega closed out a great performance for him, while the subbing in first of Lainez and later of Corona were game changing. After Mexico took the lead, they started to pass the ball all through the field as they looked to tire out Jamaica and also open them up a little to try to get another goal. Mexico came close again with a header by Vega that went just wide. Lainez then got a ball in the area and was able to get off a good left footed shot that Blake made a great save to send it to a corner kick. It would be the last chance, and Mexico would leave until it late but got a key victory against Jamaica.
As many World Cup Qualifiers go, it wasn’t pretty and was heading toward a true disaster but Mexico ended getting a huge win. It would have been disastrous to lose, especially after Jamaica went down to 10 players. Yet Mexico got a deserved win in which they dominated possession, although they were too cautious at times and could have paid dearly because of it. Alexis Vega had a great match and the subbing in of Lainez and Corona was key although Coach Gerardo Martino should really be more willing to risk things, as not doing so stifled a Mexican side that was better. Still Kingston is not an easy place to play and Jamaica are always a tough side. Both Canada and the United States only got ties against them in their matches in Kingston. Mexico will also look to get back key players like Lozano and maybe Raul Jimenez for the next matchups, but they will face two tough rivals at home in Costa Rica and Panama. Martino will have a lot of work but will look forward to the end of a tough stretch of away matches.