It was heartbreak for Mexico in the final match of their Group C campaign against Saudi Arabia as a last-minute goal denied them a spot in the FIFA World Cup Round of 16.
It was all to play for in the Group C matches, with Argentina taking on Poland while Mexico and Saudi Arabia went to battle at the same time with two spots up for grabs to advance into the Round of 16 stage.
With Argentina prevailing over Poland, a win for Saudi Arabia would be enough to progress, while Mexico needed a win and goal difference to get them through. Unfortunately, it was not to be for either as a 2-1 result to Mexico was not enough.
The first 45 minutes of play saw Mexico dominate possession and continuously tried to exploit the Saudi Arabian defence but overall didn’t have any real opportunities to cement on the scoreboard.
With both Group C matches scoreless at half-time, qualification seemed out of reach for El Tri. But a goal shortly after half-time gave new hope to the boisterous Mexican fans in the stadium and those watching around the world.
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In the 47th minute, Martin bundled the ball into the back of the net from a corner kick. It was Mexico’s first goal of the tournament. Five minutes later, an outrageous strike from Chavez which was a free kick from nearly 30 yards out doubled Mexico’s lead.
It was agonising for the El Tri as they proceeded to dominate Saudi Arabia in all forms. Shots on target, general possession and on the scoreboard and all that was needed is one last strike to secure a birth into the next stage. At this stage, the Mexicans were tied with Poland on points and goal difference, needing one more goal to jump ahead.
A last-minute strike however denied any chance of that occurring with Salem Al Dawsari bringing a goal back for the Green Falcons.
With the final whistle blown and Mexico grabbing the points, it became the first time since 1978 that Mexico have failed to progress to the knockout stages.
Despite the goal, it was a disappointing end to Saudi Arabia’s World Cup campaign, who started so strongly with a shock 2-1 win over Argentina in the first match. They finish the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the bottom of Group C.
In the Round of 16, Poland will face France, and Argentina will take on Australia.
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