Mexico Falls Short on Goal Differential Vs. Saudi Arabia, Eliminated From World Cup


Mexico has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Despite goals from Henry Martín and Luis Chávez, Mexico fell short based on goal differential with a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia. With Argentina’s 2-0 win over Poland, Mexico’s minus-one goal differential wasn’t enough to Poland’s zero.

Saudi Arabia opened the game with a 3-4-3 starting lineup with manager Hervé Renard making three changes after its previous 2-0 loss to Poland. 

Gerard “Tata” Martino flipped back to a back four after running a five-man low block against Argentina, this time starting with a 4-2-3-1. Orbelín Pineda got the start as the central attacking midfielder – also his first minutes in the tournament – with Edson Álvarez also entering the lineup after not playing against La Albiceleste. 

Mexico dominated the possession all throughout the first half, ending the opening 45 minutes with 69% of the ball and 11 shots (three on target). Alexis Vega had the best chance in the third minute but Mohammaed Al-Owais raced out of his line and made himself look big to get the save.

Luis Chávez then attempted a half-volley in the 22nd minute from outside the penalty box that had good control, but it ultimately didn’t prove to be a challenge for Al-Owais.

Pineda also had a key opportunity in the 25th minute when he received a cut-back low cross from the right flank, but two Saudi Arabian defenders threw themselves at the shot that was partially deflected and resulted in an easy save for Al-Owais. 

Mexico’s 3-2-5 build up overloaded Saudi Arabia’s back four and the pressure kept on coming, but both sides held up well to end the first half at 0-0. The Green Falcons managed just 57% pass completion accuracy in the opening 45 minutes plus stoppage time.

It all opened up in the second half, though, which was inevitable based on how the first half came to a close.

El Tri got the benefit early on, with Henry Martín ending the nation’s 2022 goal drought with a poacher’s finish in the 47th minute. 

Then, just five minutes later, Chávez drilled a free kick that is a contender for goal of the tournament as Mexico took a 2-0 lead. 

Chances kept coming for Mexico but it either couldn’t finish it off or an offside ruling came into play.

In the end, Mexico conceded a goal to Salem Al-Dawsari in the 95th minute of stoppage time that sealed the deal.

Even if Mexico held on to win 2-0, it would’ve been eliminated based on yellow cards accumulated. Mexico had picked up seven over the three group stage games while Poland had just five.

Now it will be Argentina taking on Australia and France facing Poland in the Round of 16.

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