clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Unease ramps up in Mexico camp as 2-goal lead turns into loss in Colombia friendly

A 2-0 halftime lead wasn’t enough to seal the victory for Mexico, as Colombia scored 3 unanswered to steal the game.


After a superb first 45 minutes of the match last night where Mexico displayed all sorts of skill and ability, they managed to reflect it on the scoreboard by taking a 2-0 lead into the locker room at the half. With goals that derived from high upfield pressure ending in a penalty and offensive patience with the ball, not making any rash decisions, culminating in a genius Alexis Vega move that froze the Colombia defense, leaving Gerardo Arteaga wide open for the second score, El Tri looked composed and like a World Cup team. Not to mention, leading against a very tough South American squad.

But at the start of the second half, reality kicked back in lightning fast, as Colombia head coach Néstor Lorenzo’s adjustments had an immediate effect on the match. Just three minutes in, newly subbed in Luis Sinisterra elevated himself for a corner kick cross with no competition for an easy header he missiled past Ochoa, splitting Mexico’s lead in half. And then three minutes after that, Jorge Carrascal, who had also just come on to start the second half, wiffed past a couple Mexican defenders without inconvenience to only find an again wide open, unmarked Sinisterra, who crossed his shot over to the far post, freezing Ochoa and tying the match up in the 52nd minute. Yep, things were back to normal.

Colombia kept the pressure on and almost took the lead a couple minutes later with a great play and volley by Rafael Borré which Ochoa was able to deflect rather simply. But that was only foreshadowing. In the 68th minute, Borré himself took a ball on the left side of Mexico’s box, turned and sent a lobbed pass to a wide open Wilmar Barrios who missiled a volley that curled away from Ochoa for a world class goal.

And Mexico really didn’t have a response after that, outside of a stoppage time long distance shot by Alexis Vega that went just wide which would’ve been the 3-3 tie. In the end, Colombia had 10 total shots (5 on target) to Mexico’s 8 (3 on target), and 60% ball possession, most of which occurred in the second half. In other words, a game that had been completely dominated by Mexico in the first half was completely turned around in the second.

And this letdown occurred with the same exact players. Martino’s first substitution came in the 60th minute. How the same 11 players can look like a completely different team in such a short time frame is just astonishing. Forget the fact Lozano didn’t play or Jiménez was out; Henry Martín and Alexis Vega had a noteworthy first half performance to only disappear after that. Forget the fact César Montes started the game on the bench; Héctor Moreno, Néstor Araujo and that entire defensive line contained Colombia’s attack magnificently in the first half to only be slaughtered play after play in the second.

The bottom line is: It’s not enough. Mexico just don’t have enough talent, quality, and star power to compete or contend with these higher caliber teams. No matter who you insert into the equation, the consistency and quality is simply not there or doesn’t last enough in order to get you a result. In the postgame presser yesterday (as in previous ones), Martino highlighted the fact his team played a great 45 minutes as well as a great first half against Peru. They also had good moments in their Paraguay loss and Ecuador draw, but the thing is, that’s not enough. You must convert that into bigger, more consistent stretches of the match, and most importantly, translate it into results. Without the aforementioned progress, those “good moments” are meaningless.

Just another negative result for Martino and Mexico in their 2022 World Cup prep process. Despite seeing “good moments” in yesterday’s match, the inability to come away with positive results against more difficult / challenging squads over the past year is a cause for concern to say the very least. With these two matches now in their rearview mirror, El Tri have officialy wrapped up their friendlies on this continent, and now look to find answers in their final two prep matches against Iraq and Sweden to be played in Spain, on November 9th and 16th, respectively. Hope dies last, as they say, but the problem with this struggling team is there’s so little to hope for in the first place.