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Mexico cruise past Nicaragua to qualify to Quarterfinals of U-17 CONCACAF Championship

Mexico completely dominated Nicaragua in route to a 6-0 victory in the Round of 16.

via @miseleccionmx

Mexico qualified to the quarterfinals of the 2023 U-17 CONCACAF Championship after crushing Nicaragua by a 6-0 score. They dominated the match completely and strolled to a victory against a Nicaraguan team who left a lot to be desired and were outmatched in every aspect. Mexico will now face El Salvador with the winner qualifying to the 2023 U-17 World Cup.

Mexico came out featuring their best lineup, including the return of Brandon Lomeli who was injured in their debut against Curazao and hadn’t played since. As expected, Mexico dominated play from the start although they weren’t creating chances. Their first one came when after a run and a good cross from Fidel Barajas, Lomeli got a great chance but his volley went wide. A cross from Lomeli turned into a shot that forced a save from Nicaragua’s goalkeeper Fernando Moreno. A longball sent just outside the area was perfectly lowered by Fidel Barajas who got into the area and fired a shot past Moreno for the 1-0. It was the goal everybody expected as Mexico had completely dominated the match to that point.

Play continued and it would be Gael Alvarez’s shot that forced another save from Moreno as he sent the ball to a corner kick. In the ensuing corner, Alvarez got off a great cross that found Kevin Garcia who wonderfully headed the ball by Moreno for the 2-0. It looked like Mexico had finished the match just 24 minutes in. And the goals didn’t stop coming. A great combination play by Mexico was finished with Gael Alvarez getting off an incredible rocket shot from outside the area that left Moreno standing still as the ball went into the net and placed the lead at 3-0. Mexico had scored a beautiful goal and grabbed a commanding lead, which didn’t stop them from continuing their assault and looked dangerous constantly, but the score would remain with Mexico taking a three goal lead into halftime.

The second half started with Mexico subbing out Fidel Barajas and Javen Romero for Cristian Inda and Jonathan Flores. Nicaragua subbed out Lucas Bellomo and Stanly Rivas for Jacob Aguirre and Oliver Orozco. After a longball into the area, Stephano Carrillo would get off a right footed shot that Moreno deflected. Carrillo was first to the rebound and headed it into the net for the 4-0 lead. Minutes later, a bad tackle from Joab Gutierrez earned him a yellow, but unfortunately injured Alvarez in the process. After receiving medical attention, Alvarez had to be subbed out and Israel Tello took his place. After a great run for Urias, he would make a great pass to the area and find Stephano Carrillo, who got off a strong left footed shot past Moreno for the 5-0.

Even when Mexico had lowered their urgency and were playing conservative since the half, their domination and goalscoring remained. In injury time, Jose Urias would get the ball in the area and make a great play to dribble past Moreno and send a right footed shot into the empty net for the final goal that placed the score at 6-0. Mexico got the well deserved win and qualified to the quarterfinal.

Mexico bounced back from two lackluster performances to get a great victory with a dominating performance from the start. While they were heavy favorites against Nicaragua, they’d recently struggled against them after a 1-1 tie in the U-16 UNCAF FIFA Forward tournament. In that match, they needed a last minute goal to get a tie, but it was a 180° turn on Saturday as Nicaragua looked the victims from the start. Mexico will still need to improve as they face the most important match against El Salvador with the winner booking their ticket to the U17 World Cup, but will get a boost from the return of Lomeli, although there is worry because of the possible injury to Gael Alvarez. El Salvador should be a much tougher rival than Nicaragua, but Mexico will have the advantage of not only having one extra day of rest for the match, but the fact El Salvador needed extra time to defeat Trinidad and Tobago. So they had to go 120 minutes compared to Mexico, who settled things 30 minutes in and could take the rest of the match lightly. Thus, Mexico will be the favorite in the quarterfinal, but it will be the toughest test so far for this Mexican side.