For the fifth time in a row, Mexico has been elimated from the World Cup in the second round -- for the second time in a row, by Argentina. And for the second time today a team was left wondering what might have been had an official's error not left it a goal down. In all probability Mexico, like England before it, would still have reached the ribbon in second, if in rather more respectable fashion.
Mexico started extremely well against Argentina,
But after 25 minutes,
It precipitated a distinct loss of cool in the Mexico side, and it was no surprise to see Argentina take advantage with a second goal inside 10 minutes -- though the mistake from
Perhaps what proved most costly for Mexico was that when it did go forward -- and there were reasonable spells, particularly at the start of each half, in which Mexico dominated possession of the ball -- it severely lacked penetration. It was forced to play its soccer in front of the Argentine defense, attempting and failing to find the right ball through or resorting to hopeful shots from distance. Both sides fired off six shots on target, but Mexico attempted 16 to Argentina's 11. It was like watching a relay team going into the handover in gold medal position, only to find itself relying on a shot-putter in the last leg. With his goal in the 71st minute, Hernandez showed that he was more than capable of a clinical finish -- rolling off
On paper, these two teams play similar soccer, Mexico having been praised for its up-tempo menace and comfort in possession in the group stage. Though there was probably greater need for Mexico to seize the initiative than for Argentina to attempt to dominate the game early on, both teams depend on the sense of uneasiness they instil in opposition goalkeepers. Having been rattled by Tevez's goal (which was created by a slide-rule pass from Messi initally and a delicate attempt to chip the ball over the defense after) Mexico took on the complexion of a tribute band booked onto the same bill as the original.
Argentina was neat and well-organized;
People continue to question Argentina's defense but on the evidence of today this looks to have even less basis on empirical evidence than ever: