World Cup Today: Mexico lives to fight another day

On an afternoon when everything went wrong for Mexico, El Tri was rescued.

Like the USA in 2002, Mexico owes a big thanks to South Korea for keeping it alive at the 2018 World Cup.

What's next ...
July 2 Mexico vs. Brazil vs. Mexico, Samara (10 am ET)
July 3 Sweden vs. Switzerland, St. Petersburg (10 am ET)

In 2002, the USA lost Poland, 3-1, on the final day of the group stage, but South Korea beat Portugal, 1-0, on a late goal from Park Ji-Sung, when a tie would have sent the Portuguese into the final 16 along with South Korea, the World Cup co-host.

The morning after the final day of group play in 2002, Bruce Arena, the U.S. coach, was late to his daily press conference in Seoul and opened by apologizing, "I spent the morning shopping for Park Ji-Sung."

On Wednesday, in Russia, Mexico and the United States, Mexicans went up any Koreans they saw and gave them big hugs.

After beating Germany, 1-0, and South Korea, 2-1, Mexico appeared to be cruising in Russia, but it still faced the possibility of exiting if it lost to Sweden and Germany beat South Korea. Scores of 1-0 would have created a three-way tie for first on points, goal difference and goals scored, setting in motion a host of other tiebreakers that disfavored Mexico.

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio gambled and went with the same starting lineup -- and same formation -- that beat South Korea, marking the first time in 51 games he didn't make any changes.

The gamble backfired as Mexico came out flat and was overrun in the second half when Sweden scored three goals in 24 minutes to open up a 3-0 lead.

Mexico's only hope was Germany, the defending champion, didn't win. As Sweden added one goal after another, it still remained 0-0 in Kazan. South Korea had entered the day with slim hopes of advancing, but they depended on beating Germany and Sweden losing to Mexico.

The latter wasn't going to happen, but the Koreans didn't give up. Germany had its chances but never looked like breaking down the organized Korean backline. In stoppage time, South Korea got goals from Kim Young-Gwon and Son Heung-Min to beat Germany, 2-0.

So despite a 3-0 loss to Sweden, Mexico was through to the round of 16 for the seventh straight time.

Osorio blamed Mexico's defensive structure for the heavy defeat.

"We usually play with three at the back and an anchor man who is very good in the air," he said. "Basically, we defend with four. Today, for the first time we decided to play with four and not that structure. And at the end, we didn't succeed in our penetration in the final third."

No team has ever won its first two games at the World Cup and not advanced in group play where the top two teams go through.

"It would have been horrible to get all the way to this match with six points and not have qualified," Osorio said. "We will sit down and over today's match again. But there is not much time to sit and cry over what happened."

Group F ...
Sunday, June 17
Mexico 1 Germany 0.
(Lozano 35. Att.: 78,011.)
Monday, June 18
1 South Korea 0.
(Granqvist pen. 65. Att.: 42,300.)
Saturday, June 23
Mexico 2 South Korea 1.
(Vela pen. 26, Hernandez 66; Son Heung-Min 90+3. Att.: 43,472.)
Germany 2 Sweden 1.
(Reus 48, Kroos 90+5; Toivonen 32. Att.: 44,287.)
Wednesday, June 27
South Korea 2 Germany 0.
(Kim Young-Gwon 90+2, Son Heung-Min 90+6. Att.: 41,835.)
Sweden 3 Mexico 0.
(Augustinsson 50, Granqvist pen. 62, own goal 74. Att.: 33,061.)

1. Sweden, 6 points (5-2)
2. Mexico, 6 points (3-4)
3. South Korea, 3 points (3-3)
4. Germany, 3 points (2-4)
4 comments about "World Cup Today: Mexico lives to fight another day".
  1. beautiful game, June 27, 2018 at 8:15 p.m.

    VAR is a joke. Referees are inconsistent. Too many cameras on the pitch are butchering the game into a segmented ping-pong game of dizziness. Enough of these closeups which in league games number about 360 and during the WC over 700 mug shots. There is no purposeful rhyme or reason in the video management of the game.

  2. Ric Fonseca replied, June 27, 2018 at 9:55 p.m.

    say amigo, have you ever officated any game at any level? PLAY ON, i SAY!!!

  3. frank schoon replied, June 28, 2018 at 9:46 a.m.

    Exactly, BG. What this VAR now does is show all the fouls that werern't and should have been called

  4. Wooden Ships replied, June 28, 2018 at 6:13 p.m.

    It has not enhanced 
    my viewing pleasure, but then I didn’t grow up with all this meathead video entertainment. I was out doing, not viewing or living through electronics. Any takers on the year drones become the Center? 

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