Mexico beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in the last group round match of the World Cup finals on Wednesday, but it was not enough to qualify for the 8-finals. The tournament is also over for the Saudis.
At the same time, Argentina beat Poland in the other match in Group C, but this did not prevent both teams from qualifying for the knockout tournament. Argentina will play Australia in the eighth round and Poland will play France.
The Mexicans dominated the first half in attack but were unable to score. After the break, the Mexican national team quickly made it 2-0 and looked to achieve a third goal that would have put them in the knockout stages, but a counter-attack by Saudi Arabia reduced the gap and erased Mexico's hopes.
The Mexican team attacked relentlessly and came very close to scoring a third goal on several occasions, but failed to score. Moreover, at the end of injury time, Saudarabi played the ball to Salem Aldavsari for a free kick in the penalty area, who hit the bottom corner of the net.
Saudi Arabia - Mexico. World Cup football match
Mexico wins 2:1. Argentina and Poland are next.
Poland can breathe a little.
In one of the rare attacks, Saudarabi plays the ball to Salem Aldavsari for a free kick in the penalty area, who shoots into the bottom corner.
Saudi Arabia reduces the score to 1:2.
Mexico has 7 minutes of stoppage time to score the all-important third goal.
Mexico celebrates their third goal but in vain. Back.
Balls into the path of a wall of Saudi players, one danger averted.
The Mexicans take a penalty kick on the edge of the penalty area.
The Saudi defense is trying to keep it simple in the Mexican attacks, but often can't keep up with the opponents' plays.
Poland is a whisker or two yellow cards ahead of Mexico in the extra-time competition. One goal can change everything.
Another great penalty kick by Chaves, but Allouis jumps to reach the ball this time.
Martin strikes the ball over the Saudi goal.
Argentina scores their second goal against Poland. If both games end 2-0, Mexico and Poland will play off for a place in the last eight. In practice, this will mean a yellow card record.
As things stand, Mexico is one goal short of reaching the knockout round. Saudi Arabia - three, which already seems impossible.
Two goals for Mexico will also not be enough for the eighth round if Argentina beat Poland 1-0.
Mexico's third goal is disallowed - offside.
An excellent penalty kick by Luis Chaves - the ball flies into the top corner of the net.
Mexico 2-0 lead!
The Saudis know that the only way to save what is at stake is to go on the offensive.
Henry Martin puts Mexico in front from in front of the goal following a corner kick.
Mexico leads 1:0!
In the first few minutes, Alovais stops two shots.
The game resumes after the break.
In the other group match, no goals were scored in the first half - a result that would have favored Poland and Argentina after the final whistle.
The first half ends goalless 0:0!
At half-time, Mexico's first goal is threatened, but Ali Alhassan's header from the center of the box is well wide off the target.
6 minutes of stoppage time remain to be played.
A hail of shots hits the Saudi goal, but not once does the ball reach the net.
The pace of the game slows down a bit toward half-time.
In the attack, the Saudis don't even reach the Mexican penalty area.
Sultan Alganam saves the Saudi Arabia team - the ball hits him on the side of the head after a header by Orvelin Pineda, instead of entering the goal.
Mexico is piling up shots on goal. Although the defense and Alvarez are keeping out the threat, the numerous chances are increasing the chances for Mexico to score first.
Mexico is in control in the center of the park, with no direct threats on goal.
Al Owais is alert to the pace of the game and leaves the Saudi goal in time to avoid danger.
Mohamed Kanno strikes the ball across the face of Mexico's goal.
Saudarabi converts the penalty kick after Saud Abdulhamid is brought down in the penalty area.
Both teams lack precision in attack, Saudis could use the skills to catch their opponents in the back which worked in the win over Argentina.
Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohamed Alovais, on a breakaway, blocks Alexis Vega's close-range shot on the edge of the penalty area.
The match is underway!
Thousands of spectators in the stands sing the national anthems of both Saudi Arabia and Mexico. The mood is fitting for great football.
The Saudi and Mexican anthems are played in the stadium.
The two teams in green take the field. The Saudi footballers are wearing tracksuits over their uniform shirts.
It's all in the Saudi Arabian team's own hands - a win will settle all questions for the team for the eighth-finals. For Mexico, a win will only give them hope, which can be fulfilled in the event of a favorable second-leg result.
All four teams in Group C had different chances of qualifying for the two rounds of the 8-finals.
Eight-final qualification scenarios
Poland was theoretically in the best position, as even a draw against Argentina would have guaranteed them a place in the 8-finals. A loss would deny the Poles' progression if Saudi Arabia beat Mexico. If the Poles lose but Saudi Arabia scores a point for a draw, the two teams with the better aggregate goals scored and goals conceded will qualify for the eighth round. The scenario of Poland losing and Mexico winning came true: the team with the better goal difference between the two teams went through. Poland had a goal difference of 0, Mexico -1.
Argentina was guaranteed a place in the eighth round with a win over Poland. A draw would also be a draw between Saudi Arabia and Mexico. A draw would not be enough for Argentina if Saudi Arabia won regardless of the result or Mexico won by at least three goals and had better overall goals scored and conceded record. If Argentina and Mexico had the same number of points, the same number of goals scored and the same number of goals conceded, the South American team would go further because of the victory in the match between them. A loss for Argentina would remove all chances.
Saudi Arabia would certainly go further if they beat the Mexicans. A draw would be enough if the Poles beat Argentina. Saudi Arabia would be out of the eighth-finals if both games ended in a draw. If Argentina beat Poland and Saudi Arabia earned a point for a draw, the Polish and Saudi competition would be decided by the total number of goals scored and conceded. With a loss, Saudi Arabia had no chance of reaching the eighth round.
Mexico's hopes were only kept alive with a win over Saudi Arabia. In addition, the Mexicans had to hope for a Polish victory over Argentina or a better goal difference if the Argentinians beat the Poles or played to a draw.
The 32 national teams qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar are divided into eight groups for the first stage of the tournament and will play a round-robin tournament until 2 December. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the knockout phase, which will end with the final on 18 December.
Commentary by Alfredo Arnold, Academic at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UAG) and sports analyst.
El Tri's 71 matches
Mexico had the whole match to score goals in Saudi Arabia's goal and failed to do so. The Arabs had one and scored it. For desire, for effort, for dedication, it was not enough.
For Mexican soccer, the World Cup illusion came to an end and so did the long process of "Tata" Martino as a coach. He coached 65 games, won 39, tied 14, and lost 12. He won one Gold Cup and lost another; lost to the United States in the CONCACAF Nations League; qualified for the World Cup as second place in the CONCACAF qualifiers, behind Canada, and remained in the first round of the Qatar World Cup with one win, one tie, and one loss.
At the end of the World Cup in Russia and before Martino's arrival, the Mexican National Team played six friendly matches under the direction of "Tuca" Ferretti, of which it won only one (3-2 against Costa Rica) and lost five, against Uruguay, the United States, Chile and twice against Argentina. Between these matches and those of "Tata", the Tricolor played 71 matches, equivalent to 17.7 per year.
That is, broadly speaking, the performance of our National Team from September 2018 until yesterday. In January, another cycle will begin that will culminate with the 2026 World Cup to be played in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Let everyone draw their conclusions.
If Martino had used yesterday's lineup from the beginning.
If the Argentine goalkeeper had not saved that shot by Alexis Vega.
If Ochoa had saved Messi's shot.
If the Arab goalkeeper had not caught Chavez's second free kick.
If Messi had not missed the penalty against Poland.
If we had not had two goals disallowed...
There will be many excuses, but the fact is that, in 71 games, Mexico never used yesterday's lineup. They will blame Martino for his defensive game, but yesterday there were plenty of opportunities and they were not taken. Anyway, the Clausura 2023 kicks off in January. That is what counts.