Mexico defeated New Zealand in their second match of the FIFA Confederation Cup in Sochi by two goals to one, in a match that was marked by a violent outburst of temper from players from both teams in the closing minutes of the game.And the light punishment meted out to the offenders in the aforesaid melee showed the inefficiency of the central referee Bakary Gassama, who got some of the calls relating to the ugly incident wrong, in spite of the fact that he was invited to see a video replay of the fracas that broke out.
The first goal of the match was scored by Chris Wood. Wood profited from a misplaced pass from Nesto Araujo in the build up to his goal, which he scored by spinning the ball beyond an onrushing Alfredo Talavera.Raul Jimenez equalized for the El Tri when he slotted a well-laid backward pass from the mercurial winger Javier Aquino into the goal from the six yard box.The match-winning goal was scored by Oribe Peralta; the Club America’s striker, on receiving a Marco Fabian’s pass, executed a one hundred and eighty degree turn before curling the ball into the roof of the net.
This was a match many soccer viewers felt the El Tri would win comfortably because of the paucity of world-class talents in the Kiwis’ team .This belief may have informed the Mexican’s coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, to make eight changes to the team that played against Portugal.It was a decision that almost backfired, though Mexico were the better side during the game.
It took the game a while to settle into any observable form of creative play in the first half.The Kiwis were not cowed by the big reputation of their better-rated opponent;and had Chris Wood maintained sufficient composure in his goal-scoring opportunities, he could have scored five goals in this match.
The Mexicans’s game was somewhat scrappy in the first twenty five minutes, owing perhaps to the usual lack of motivation players experience when they face a weak opposition.They were, however,woken to grim reality of a possible group-stage elimination when Wood scored in the dying minutes of the first half.
The El Tri came into the second half with an evident determination to score goals. Osirio tweaked the back line to a three -man defence, and Hector Herrera was introduced to plug the gaping openings that were cropping up at their rear in the first half.
The first ten minutes of the second half saw the Mexican’s launching unceasing waves of attack against their opponent.Javier Aquino, who was arguably the best player on the pitch, was the grand orchestrator of the Mexican’s attack.He tormented the New Zealand’s right full back with his mesmerizing dribbling from the left flank.The diminutive Tigres UANL’s player turned and twisted , made darting runs with the ball to the utter bemusement of his markers.His delightful and purposeful play resulted in his assist to Peralta who score Mexico’s second goal.Aquino’s dribbling runs from the left flank was also instrumental to the equalizer scored by the El Tri.
On the right wing of Mexico’s attacking line was Juergen Damm; this player was a sheer delight to watch in the few instances the ball was passed to him.Gifted with the ability to use both feet with almost equal ease : he made short work of the Kiwis’ left full back each time he attacked the opponent from the right flank.Several of his crosses from the byline caused problems for the Kiwi’s defenders inside their six yard box; and had he an element of luck on his side today : he could easily have easily scored a goal or two.The Mexican’s preference of launching their attack through Aquino during the game, denied viewers of seeing the immense talent of Damm.
The Kiwis also had good chances in the second half to score some goals of their own.Misses from Chris Wood and Ryan Thomas made sure the New Zealanders were not able to claim at least a point from the three at stake.
At the closing minutes of the game, when other players would have made recourse to time-wasting tactics at the corner flank,Aquino was on hand again to cause havoc in the opponent’s penalty box.He raced with the ball into the opponent’s half and waltzed his way into the six yard box before sending a pass to the unmarked Jimenez; but Jemenez’s final shot was unbelievably cleared away from the touch line by Tommy Smith.
The simmering tension in both sets of players since the inception of the game found a vent to express its ugly self when Michael Boxall, making a last minute attacking run towards the Mexican’s penalty box was cynically pulled down by Luis Reyes. At that point hell was let loose: both sets of players engaged in a brawl where shoves,punches,elbows and headbutts were freely used.
When calm was restored, the central referee failed initially to issue cards to the offenders, until he was called by the team manning the video replay system to see the infringements that had escaped his notice.He eventually yellow- carded players from both teams before game resumed; but had he shown enough vigilance when the melee broke out, he would have identified one or two players that were in fact deserving of a red card.
With today’s victory Mexico tops A, requiring only a draw in their next match to qualify for the Semi-final stage.