[ARGENTINA-MEXICO] Mexico's streak of reaching the second round of the last five World Cups is matched only by Brazil and Germany, but El Tri's 3-1 loss to Argentina on Sunday marked the fifth straight time it has fallen in the round of 16 -- and was a repeat of its elimination by Argentina four years ago. "I was not able to change the history," said Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, whose team was victim of a missed offside on Argentina's opening goal.
What we liked ...
-- Gonzalo Higuain fell out of favor with the Argentine federation when he turned down an invitation to play in the 2007 U-20 World Cup because Real Madrid convinced him to stay in Spain to fight for a starting spot. But Coach Diego Maradona called him in last October as Argentina struggled in 2010 World Cup qualifying, and Higuain scored in his debut against Peru, a crucial 2-1 win. The 22-year-old misfired in Argentina’s opener in South Africa but Maradona told him “don’t be upset” – and Higuain hit a hat trick in the next game, a 4-1 win over South Korea. Against Mexico, Higuain scored Argentina’s second goal to take the tournament scoring lead with four goals. Higuain now has an amazing strike rate for his national team of six goals in eight games.
-- While Lionel Messi had a relatively quiet game, Carlos Tevez scored Argentina’s first goal – the controversial offside strike that Messi set up – and iced the game with a thundering 28-yard strike in the 52nd minute.
-- Argentina is the tournament’s highest scoring team so far, with 10 goals in four games, one more than Germany, which it faces in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
What we didn’t like …
-- Mexico’s loss marked the fifth straight World Cup in which it has fallen in the round of 16 and the second straight time the Tri has been eliminated by Argentina. In 2006, Mexico fell to the Albiceleste 2-1 in overtime in perhaps the tournament’s best game. The 2010 clash started promising for Mexico with end-to-end action during which El Tri came close to scoring. But after linesman Stefano Ayroldi missed Tevez’s offside as the Argentine scored in the 26th minute, the Mexicans floundered.
-- Seven minutes after Argentina’s first goal, Mexican defender Ricardo Osorio’s meek pass just outside the penalty area fell to Higuain, who calmly tricked his way past Oscar Perez to strike home.
-- Mexico could have avoided the early meeting with Argentina had it finished first instead of second in Group A. After opening with a 1-1 tie against South Africa it impressively downed France, 2-0. But the Mexicans fell to Uruguay, 1-0, in their final group game, sending the Uruguayans to a much less daunting matchup with South Korea. (Uruguay advanced to the quarterfinals, where it faces Ghana, with a 2-1 win over the Koreans.)
ROUND OF 16:
June 27 in Johannesburg
Argentina 3 Mexico 1. Goals: Tevez 26, 52, Higuain 33; Hernandez 71.
Argentina -- Romero, Otamendi, Demichelis, Burdisso, Heinze, Mascherano, M.Rodriguez (Pastore 87), Di Maria (Gutierrez 79), Messi, Tevez (Veron 69), Higuain.
Mexico -- Perez, Juarez, Rodriguez, Salcido, Osorio, Marquez, Guardado (Franco 61), Torrado, Bautista (Barrera 46), dos Santos, Hernandez.
Yellow Card: Mexico -- Marquez 28.
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).