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Mexico bounce back to get tie against Australia

Down 2-0, El Tri came from behind to draw even at 2-2.

Australia v Mexico Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Mexico battled back from going down 2-0 to get a 2-2 tie against Australia in the first friendly of the Jaime Lozano era. Mexico struggled against a very defensive side who sat back and countered, a style that gives Mexico fits. Still, Mexico made some good plays and finished as the better team although they weren’t able to get the victory. Mexico will now travel to Atlanta to face Uzbekistan, in their final match of this September FIFA break.

The match started with Mexico coming out with possibly their best starting 11 available, with few surprises including Hector Herrera getting his first start with Mexico since the 2022 World Cup. A good early cross by Uriel Antuna almost reached Santiago Gimenez, but it was cleared out by Australia’s defense. A good pass by Orbelin Pineda could have led to a good opportunity, but the ball bounced off the feet off Antuna. Mexico dominated the early minutes against an Australia side that was sitting back and had a well defined defensive plan. Off of a corner kick, the ball wasn’t well cleared and Jackson Irvine got off a great left footed shot from outside the area that forced Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to make a save. On the ensuing corner kick, a cross into the area fell to Harry Souttar, who got a solid header past Ochoa to get the goal that gave Australia the 1-0 lead. Soutter, who measures 6’6, used his height to his advantage against a Mexican team who once again showed the historic weakness in set pieces. Mexico tried to bounce back from the goal, and they had more possession, but Australia did a good job to neutralize the team and their defensive strategy was working well. Mexico also struggled on the offense, with Antuna being constant but failing in the last third while Alexis Vega was a no show. A good combination play ended with Jesus Gallardo getting the ball in the area, but his left footed shot went right to Australia’s goalkeeper Matthew Ryan. A cross into the area bounced and became a lose ball when Santiago Gimenez looked to be tripped by Australia’s defense, but nothing was given. Mexico had their best moments but in the end it wasn’t enough, and Australia took the 1-0 lead to the halftime break.

The second half started with both teams coming out with the same players, as Mexico hoped to bounce back and get the better result. Mexico went on the offensive from the start of the second half, while Australia kept sitting back and countering. A cross into the area was headed back by Gallardo, and then Luis Romo passed the ball before Keanu Baccus handled the ball and a penalty kick was given. Santiago Gimenez stepped up to take the shot, but his left footed attempt hit the post and went out. This was Gimenez’s second penalty attempt with the National Team and the second one he missed, as he also missed his attempt in a Nations League match against Suriname. Mexico then subbed out Santiago Gimenez and Alexis Vega for Raul Jimenez and Cesar Huerta, who made his NT debut. Seconds later, Riley McGree got into the area and got tripped by Romo and a penalty was given to Australia. Martin Boyle stepped up to take the PK and with a strong right footed shot, knocked it in past Ochoa to give Australia the 2-0 lead. A cross into the area almost got volleyed in by Jimenez, but it was blocked by Australia’s defense. A good combination play ended with an Australian defender passing the ball right into the path of Gallardo, but his left footed shot went well wide, wasting a great chance. Australia subbed out Mitchell Duke and Connor Metcalfe for Nicholas D’Agostino and Dennis Genreau. Now it was Mexico’s turn to get a penalty after Australia made a sub when Antuna got brought down in the area by Cameron Burgess. Raul Jimenez stepped up to take it and struck a strong right footed shot past Ryan to score the goal that placed the match at 2-1. Australia then subbed out Martin Boyle for Samuel Silvera. Mexico menawhile subbed out Orbelin Pineda and Hector Herrera for Jordi Cortizo and Erick Sanchez. After a good move, Antuna made a good low cross that was just cleared by Australia’s defense. With Huerta and Cortizo on the field, Mexico looked more lively and were causing Australia’s defense to struggle. Mexico subbed out Julian Araujo and Uriel Antuna for Kevin Alvarez and Roberto Alvarado. Seconds later, Johan Vasquez got a great longball into the area that Burgess allowed to bounce, also leaving Cesar Huerta get to the ball and get off a great left footed shot past Ryan and into the net to give Mexico the 2-2 equalizer. It was a great goal by Huerta, who took advantage of a strong longball by Vasquez and a bad mistake from Australia to get the deserved tying goal. After a ball was cleared, there was an accidental clash between Alvarado and Jackson Irvine and coupled with the bad pitch, Irvine looked to be badly injured. Irvine had to be subbed out along with Keanu Baccus for Aiden O’neill and Milos Degenek. Mexico kept dominating possession and pushing on the offensive end, but weren’t able to create a true dangerous chance, although they were a lot closer to the win in the last minutes than Australia. In the end, the tie looked like a just result for both teams.

Mexico didn’t give a great performance, but showed enough fighting spirit to earn a tie in Jaime Lozano’s first friendly as NT manager. Australia was a solid team with a good plan to stifle Mexico and although they were stifled in the first half, they were able to overcome in the second half even with a missed penalty. The better news were the good performances from both NT debutantes Cesar Huerta and Jordi Cortizo. Huerta especially was a difference maker, coming in for a struggling Vega to liven things up and get the tying goal. Mexico will now face an Uzbekistan side that should also be very defensive minded as they hope to get a result out of their United States tour after losing on Saturday against the United States by a 3-0 score. While it wasn’t the greatest match against a team that historically has been one of Mexico’s not-as-famous nemeses, there was a good reaction and some promising things as Mexico continues to prepare themselves for qualification to Copa America.