Mexico were dumped out of the World Cup 3-1 against an under par Argentina team today in Johannesburg. The game hinged on another dreadful, linesman decision similar to the England v Germany game earlier in the day. However alike the previous game the decision maybe masked the deficiencies of largely disappointing Mexico side.
Argentina controversially took the lead when Carlos Tevez nodded home from a clearly, offside position before Gonzolo Higuin doubled the lead before half-time. Tevez smashed home his second just after the break and Mexico restored some pride when Javier Hernandez blasted home in 71 minutes.
Tevez celebrates his controversial opener
Argentina’s first goal knocked the stuffing out of a Mexico team that had more than matched their Latin American counterparts in the early stages. Indeed, Mexico had the majority a play and chances before the opener and Carlos Salcido was unlucky to see a 40 yard strike rebound of the crossbar. But once Argentina got their noses in front the result was never in doubt and they ran out comfortably against a clearly, deflated “El Tri”.
If Javier Aguirre had baffled many with previous starting line-up decisions he dumbfounded the Mexican public at the start of today’s game. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was finally included in the first 11 together with Giovani Dos Santos. But the attacking trio was completed by the much, maligned Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista who had not featured at all in Mexico’s previous matches. The reason for his inclusion was unclear. Franco and Blanco had failed to impress previously and Carlos Vela may still have been struggling with injury but Pablo Barrera had merited a starting berth.
Andres Guardado came into the midfield and Efrain Juarez returned from suspension to replace Hector Moreno with the rest of the team being unchanged. With the exception of “Bofo” Mexico were at full strength in a typical 4-4-3 formation. Similarly, Argentina set up in a 4-3-3 with Higuin, Messi and Tevez in attack and the likes of Mascherano, Maxi Rodriguez and Heinze in support.
Mexico were out for revenge following their elimination to Argentina in 2006 and began the game with more determination. With 8 minutes gone Carlos Salcido unleashed a wonderful strike from 40 yards. The Argentinean, Sergio Romero keeper miscalculated the dipping ball trajectory and only the crossbar prevented Mexico from taking the lead. Maybe recognizing Romero’s limitations Guardado also shot from 30 yards 2 minutes later but his strike sailed inches wide. Each side enjoyed half chances in the first quarter of the game created by good passages of play but when Tevez was put through in 26 minutes the game was turned on its head.
Mexican goal-keeper, Oscar Perez was quick off his line to meet Tevez but his block spun into the air to Lionel Messi who then chipped the ball on to the Manchester City hit-man. Tevez nodded home from 5 yards out and celebrated wildly on the far right hand side.
Tevez is clearly offside.
The Mexican players were incandescent with rage. Tevez was at least 2 yards offside and there was no Mexican player between himself and the goal. Then as the Mexican’s surrounded the linesman some bright spark repeated the goal on the stadium’s TV screen. Pandemonium ensued and for a spell it seemed as if the officials had reversed their decision prompting the Argentineans to join with their own protestations. In the end the goal stood much to the chagrin of Mexican team.
The teams surround the officials
The Mexican’s were clearly rattled by the injustice. Rafael Marquez vented his frustration to the referee earning a booking straight after the kick off but this was compounded two minutes later by a Ricardo Osorio howler. With no obvious danger Osorio scuffed his pass or pull back gifting Higuin with a chance inside the box. The Real Madrid strikers accepted the gratuity, rounded Oscar Perez and slid the ball into an open net.
Higuin rounds Perez to score
The Mexican’s had lost their concentration now and the defence were at sea. Tevez and Angel Di Maria both had chances to finish the game and Higuin missed a free header from 5 yards out.
The half time whistle did nothing to clam the Mexican’s ire. As both sets of players walked up the tunnel a melee ensued. Players, managers and assorted staff surrounded the officials and for a short moment things nearly deteriorated into a full scale brawl. Luckily the notoriously, placid Diego Maradona was on hand to dampen the histrionics.
The second half started with the Pablo Barrera coming on for the hapless Bautista, a decision made 45 minutes too late. Mexico again started the brighter again and seemed intent on putting their disappointment behind them. They knew they had to claw back a goal early on to make the game a competition again.
But in 53 minutes the match was finished and this time no-one was to blame. Tevez benefited from a lucky deflection 30 yards out but his ensuing shot was pure class. Perez was still stretching for the ball when it hit the top, right hand side of his net. 3 – 0 and the game was over.
The Mexican’s still tried to rescue something from the match but Gabby Heinze was on hand to thwart sub Guillermo Franco and Hernandez headed high over the crossbar from Salcido crosses. Then in 71 minutes Hernandez turned past a static, Demichelis and blasted the ball past Romero to score his 2nd goal of the tournament. It was a consolation for Mexico and no-less than they deserved but they had been put to the sword by strong if not impressive Argentinean team.
Tevez is congratulated by Messi
Chicharito restores some pride
As the minutes wore down the Mexican’s faced the prospect of another 2nd round exit and a prevailing sense of “what might have been”. They had impressed in small spells and thrilled many with their attacking ambitions but when they really need to perform again, they had been found severely lacking.