Mexico failed to impress but got a win over hosts Guatemala by a 2-0 score. With the win, Mexico officially booked their ticket to the Round of 16 and guarantees at least a second place finish in Group E. Still, the match left a lot of doubt in a game that was filled with fouls and in which Guatemala getting a red card actually hampered the match, after a poor performance from referee Joseph Dickerson. Mexico closes out their group stage participation with a match against Panama, where a win or tie would give Mexico the first place finish in the group.
The first half started with Fidel Barajas being in the starting lineup, even after the injury against Curaçao but Brandon Lomeli, who also had been injured, was on the bench. Mexico missed a great chance when a pass into the area was just missed by two Mexican attackers. When Barajas got to the ball, his left footed shot went well wide. Off of a corner kick, a header forced Guatemala goalkeeper Diego Bolaños to make a save. Later a cross into the area was just headed wide by Jose Arroyo. Then a cross into the area was brilliantly lowered by Stephano Carrillo, who then got off a left footed shot past Bolaños for the goal and the 1-0 lead. Mexico had been the better team, and the lead was well deserved. On a free kick for Guatemala, Axel de la Cruz punched a Mexican defender and got a red card, leaving Guatemala with 10 players. Elvi Elington then got the ball in the area, but his left footed shot would go wide. A great shot from Isaac Martinez forced a great save from Bolaños. Off the corner kick, a shot from Carrillo almost got deflected in. Mexico came close to getting another goal, but in the end they just kept the one goal lead but with the knowledge that having a player advantage could be key for the next half.
The second half started with Mexico subbing out Jose Arroyo for Jose Inda, wile Guatemala subbed out Gabino Vasquez and Anthony Recinos for Oseas Guerra and Anthony Salama. Guatemala came close when a header off of a corner kick went just wide. Off of a corner kick, Kevin Garcia made a short range header that forced Bolaños to make a great save. Mexico subbed out Jose Urias for Israel Tello. After a push in the area and an exaggeration by the Guatemalan player, Carrillo got a yellow card in a play that the hosts asked for a red, and in which Carrillo should have known better. A shot from outside the area by Barajas forced Bolaños to make another good save. Mexico subbed out Gael Alvarez and Stephano Carrillo for Alex Valencia and Joaquin Moxica. Guatemala subbed out Olger Escobar for Saul Sagastume. The game kept being very chippy, with a lot of fouls between both teams and a yellow for Guerra that might have been red in neutral ground. Mexico subbed out injured Kevin Garcia for Jose Muro. Guatemala subbed out Santiago Garzano for Jorge de Leon. The match continued to be chippy, especially hurt by a terrible referee, who cut play constantly. Guatemala had to sub out injured Elvi Elington for Carlos Aguilar. A cross into the area found a wide open Inda, but his header went wide. Then after a clearance by Bolaños was unable to be controlled by Guatemala, Mexico won the ball, and Fidel Barajas got a great low shot past Bolaños for the goal and the 2-0 lead that gave Mexico the win. During the celebrations there was a big brawl between Mexico’s and Guatemala’s coaching staffs that incredibly didn’t end in a red card in a bad look from both teams. The match ended, and although it was a poor performance overall, Mexico got a key victory that officially booked their ticket and at least a second place group finish for Mexico.
It was a very poor performance from the Mexican team coached by Raul Chabrand. While Mexico had controlled the match and were up a player, they failed to take advantage of it and actually played worse when they had 11 players to Guatemala’s 10. The job of referee Dickerson made things worse for Mexico after he started to constantly give fouls in favor of Guatemala with every contact. Worse yet was the reactions from the coaches, which showed that they were in over their heads in the hostile stadium, when if anything they should have been the calm presence to settle the players. With Guatemala being a tougher rival than what was faced against Curaçao, it doesn’t seem like a good sign to lower their level of play so drastically. Mexico closes out their participation against Panama on Wednesday, in a game where their positive goal record means that a tie would give them first place in the group and a Round of 16 matchup against Nicaragua. A loss would have Mexico ending in second place and facing off against the third place finisher of Group G which should be either Cuba or Guadeloupe.