Mexico’s struggles at the 2023 U17 World Cup continued after they could only get a 2-2 tie against Venezuela, who went down to 10 players in the first half of the match. After a bad loss in their opener against Germany, Mexico needed at least a point, which they got. The situation of the match however where Venezuela got a red card at the 40th minute of the match, will be a source of disappointment for fans. Mexico will now face a must win match against New Zealand, although a victory will really have them in prime position to qualify to the Round of 16, as at least one of the best third placed teams in a group.
The first half started with Mexico making some changes from the Germany match, the key one being Gael Alvarez getting the start over Jose Urias. Five minutes into the match Venezuela got a corner kick. On the corner kick, the cross found a wide open Alejandro Cichero, who headed the ball past Mexico’s goalkeeper Paolo Bedolla and into the net to give Venezuela the 1-0 lead. It was a terrible defensive job, leaving Mexico trailing from early on. Mexico responded however, and a great cross from Brandon Lomeli reached Stephano Carrillo but his header went wide. Off of a counter attack, David Martinez got into the area on a possible one-on-one, but his left footed shot went well wide. A low cross from Lomeli almost got deflected into his own net, but luckily the ball went wide. Jose Correa then got off a right footed shot from way outside the area that forced Bedolla to make a good save. While the game had been mostly even, Venezuela had been slightly the better team, plus they had a lead since early in the match. Off of a free kick, Martinez got off a left footed shot that was saved by Bedolla. On the ensuing counter attack, Giovanny Sequera made a very harsh sliding tackle on Lomeli and he would get a deserved red card, leaving Venezuela with just 10 players. A cross into the area was volleyed by Fidel Barajas, but the ball went just wide. A great shot from Carrillo then went just wide as well. The halftime whistle blew, and although Mexico dominated the last minutes of the match after Venezuela went down to 10 players, they still went into the dressing room trailing.
The second half started with Venezuela subbing out David Martinez for Miguel Vegas, while Mexico subbed out Manuel Sanchez for Francisco Valenzuela. Barajas got the ball in the area hit a low, left footed shot that forced Venezuela’s goalkeeper Jorge Sanchez to make a good save. After Mexico failed to clear the ball, Nicola Profeta got to it and got a left footed shot from outside the area that hit the post. Off of a corner kick, Profeta sent the ball in after a mistake by Bedolla, but he was ruled to have fouled him. A cross into the area was then cleared into the path of Alvarez, but his right footed shot went wide. A cross into the area was headed wide by Lomeli, but it too went just wide. Later, a cross into the area was headed just wide by Carrillo. Mexico subbed out Gael Alvarez and Tahuel Jimenez for Jose Urias and Mateo Levy. After getting the time and space, Barajas got off a great cross that Stephano Carrillo headed from close range past Sanchez and into the net to score and give Mexico the 1-1 equalizer. Venezuela subbed out Juan Arango for Santiago Silva. From way outside the area, Luis Ortiz surprised everyone by getting a left footed shot that got past Sanchez and into the net to score and give Mexico the 2-1 lead. It was a great shot, but totally caught goalkeeper Sanchez by surprise and Mexico had turned things around quickly. Venezuela subbed out Gabriel Cichero and Jose Correa for Leenhan Romero and Lucciano Reinoso. Mexico had gained more possession as Venezuela tried to get back, but they couldn’t get control of the ball. Off of a free kick, Bedolla would once again come in late and crash into a Venezuelan attacker, which made the ref give Venezuela a penalty kick. Nicola Profeta stepped up to take the PK and with a strong left footed shot knocked it past Bedolla and give Venezuela the 2-2 tie. It was a bad mistake from Bedolla, who had constantly tried to go out and clear balls and done a poor job of coming out to get those crosses. Mexico subbed out Luis Navarrete for Adrian Fernandez. A cross into the area got deflected, but just out of reach of Valenzuela. Venezuela then subbed out Luis Balbo for Pablo Ibarra. Off of a corner kick, a cross was just missed by Valenzuela, getting a wide open header and then the ball fell to Urias, who sent the ball wide from close range in a bad miss. It was the last chance, and Mexico ended up with a tie that felt like a loss.
Mexico’s 2023 U17 World Cup hasn’t gone according to plan. Their debut had them getting a bad loss against Germany by a 3-1 score where they were dominated for most of the match. Mexico needed a boost, and although a tie isn’t the worst result as they are only a victory from possibly going through to the knockout stage, the fact they failed to get a victory when they had a player advantage for most of the match is a bad sign. Mexico played a lot better than they did against Germany, but it was still far from satisfactory and Coach Raul Chabrand has failed to get a team that plays like one of the favorites for the tournament, something that should be constant for Mexico as they are twice winner of the U17 World Cup. Mexico though should be favored against New Zealand in a match they must win, but a victory could even get them to second place, depending on the result between Venezuela and Germany.