When the Confederations Cup started, there were high hopes for the Mexican national team. Sadly for them, they didn’t have a good showing in the first two games of the tournament losing to Italy 2-1 and to Brazil 2-0. They were going to face Japan in their last game in the Confederations Cup and Mexico was not playing for pride and to get some confidence for future games.
The game started with Mexico trying to be more offensive. Their head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre decided to play with another offensive player to play alongside Javier “El Chicharito” Hernandez. The first real opportunity to score in the game was for Japan in the fifth minute of the game. Kagawa received the pass and dragged the ball away from a defender. By doing this, the ball slowed down and Kagawa couldn’t shot it comfortably towards goal; he could only kick it with his toe. The ball shot out but Guillermo Ochoa was able to block the ball with his left foot. Even though Mexico was trying to be the aggressor, Japan was the team who seemed to be closer to scoring the first goal. Japan scored the first goal but was nullified by an offside. Japan shot from outside and Okazaki changed the direction of the ball into the net. Japan was about to start celebrating but the line judge had raised his flag ruling an offside.
As the minutes ticked on, Japan seemed to gain more confidence pushing forward in their attack while making Mexico defend themselves much more. When Japan had the ball, they would create spaces and look for a way to attack. When Mexico had the ball they would either turn the ball over quickly or they would just pass the ball around without finding any spaces to create any sort of attack. Mexico finally created something in the 40th minute of the game. Jorge Torres Nilo had the ball on the left flank and crossed the ball towards the box. Andres Guardado dove for the ball and hit it with his head on goal but the ball hit the left post and rattled out. Mexico had finally created something and this seemed to give Mexico some confidence because they started to move forward instead of just waiting for Japan to attack. The half came to a close with Mexico taking the last shot and finally showing some positive plays.
Mexico started a lot better in the second half. They had the ball a lot more in the beginning minutes than Japan and were threatening. They almost scored in the 52nd minute when Raul Jiminez headed the ball on goal but Japan’s goalkeeper, Kawashima, was able to block it. Mexico scored the first goal just two minutes after that play. Guardado crossed the ball towards the near post. “El Chicharito” ran towards the ball and hit the ball into the net scoring the first goal of the match. Mexico came out a lot more aggressive than Japan and justly scored the first goal of the second half.
Giovanni Dos Santos almost scored a goal in the 60th minute. He shot on goal but the ball hit the post again. Japan responded quickly with a shot on their own but the ball hit the outside of the net. Both teams began to find open spaces where they could exploit and find attacking lanes. Mexico scored their second goal in the 66th minute of the game. Dos Santos took the corner kick and crossed it to the near post where Hank Mier headed it back to the far post. “El Chicharito” was there to receive the pass and just head it into the net to score his second goal of the game.
Japan was able to score their first goal in the 86th minute of the game. Kagawa crossed the ball to Endo who was alone on the right side of the box. Endo then crossed it to Okazaki who tapped it over Ochoa and scored Japan’s first goal.
“El Chicharito” manufactured a penalty kick in the 91st minute of the game. He set up the ball and shot low and to the left but Kawashima dove and blocked the shot. He left the rebound and “El Chicharito” had the rebound but he shot it with too much force and it hit the crossbar and bounced out.
The game ended with Mexico winning the game 2-1 with a much better showing from the Mexican national team. The game was a tale of two halves. In the first half Japan dominated the game but couldn’t score. In the second half, Mexico dominated the game and scored two goals. Even though Mexico won this game, it wasn’t in a convincing manner and many questions are still asked for the Mexican national team.
Photo: (Samuel Coronado)