Too little, too late: Mexican win over Saudi not enough to stay in World Cup

Lusail, Qatar, Nov 30 (EFE).- Mexico are out of World Cup 2022 even though they beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 here Wednesday to go level on points with second-place Poland in Group C.

El Tri paid for their lack of offense in this year’s tournament, as the Poles grabbed the second round-of-16 berth by virtue of better goal difference.

It was the first time since 1978 that Mexico have failed to make it out of the group stage and coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino stepped down shortly after the final whistle.

“I assume fully the responsibility for this great failure,” he said at the post-match press conference.

Both sides came into the contest at 89,000-seat Lusail Stadium needing a victory to have a chance to qualify for the next round and the Saudis had the edge, leading the still-winless Mexicans on the strength of their stunning 2-1 win over Argentina in the opener.

After being held scoreless in the first two games, Mexico attacked relentlessly, putting 11 shots on target to just two for Saudi Arabia.

But while they had most of the ball and practically all of the initiative, El Tri remained plagued by the lack of a true striker and the scoreboard read 0-0 at the break.

Henry Martin broke the stalemate in the 47th minute and Luis Chavez made it 2-0 in the 52nd with Mexico’s first World Cup goal from a direct free kick since 1966.

But the Mexicans would need to win by a bigger margin to be sure of advancing and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano added a third goal in the 56th minute, only to see it disallowed for an offside.

Sub Uriel Antuna likewise had a goal chalked off for an offside infraction and five minutes into stoppage time, Salem Al Dawsari clawed back a goal for Saudi, putting an end to Mexico’s hopes.

EFE omb/dr

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