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World Cup: Saudi-Mexico 1-2, both eliminated

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World Cup: Saudi-Mexico 1-2, both eliminated

Coach Martino resigns. Martin and Chavez scored, Tricolor one step away from the round of 16, but too many mistakes at the net. And in the 95th minute Al Dawsari’s goal put the seal on a now almost certain elimination due to the difference in yellow cards with the Poles, at which point they were ready to celebrate despite the defeat against Argentina

Only one goal would have been enough, not decisive for the final outcome but for the hierarchy of the group. Mexico watches the qualification fade in the challenge of the disappointed ones: at least one could have celebrated access to the round of 16, instead both say goodbye to the World Cup. Much more regret for Martino’s national team, compared to Saudi Arabia, which after the extraordinary feat with Argentina was no longer able to align the planets for another miraculous success. The Tricolor dominates throughout the race, sometimes suffering the roughness of the Saudis but never risking too much. Then she gets lost in the calculations between goal difference and cards, exhausted in morale after not finding the goal that would have been worth overtaking and ends up conceding it. An epilogue with a strong symbolic value, which does not change the substance.

Renard is forced to arrange the starting eleven, due to several absences: in fact, the suspended Al-Malki and the injured Al-Faraj and Al-Shahrani are missing. Thus the French coach proposes Al-Bulayhi adapted wide to the left in defense, with Abdulhamid moved to the midfield paired with Al-Hassan on his debut as owner at the World Cup and Kanno advanced close to the forwards Al-Buraikan, Al-Shehri and Al- Dawsari. Martino responds with an equally offensive setup, deploying Pineda in support of the trident made up of Vega, Martin and Lozano. In defense there is still room for the Monterrey block formed by Gallardo, Moreno and Montes, plus Sanchez from Ajax. The game is intense right from the start. Mexico seems to want to exploit the ideas of the attacking wingers, who are also given the freedom to converge. It is precisely the situation that gives rise to the first chance, after three minutes: Lozano focuses and rewards Vega’s cut, but Al-Owais understands everything and anticipates the conclusion when exiting. On the other hand, it was Kanno who got noticed, first with a volley from Al-Dawsari’s cross and then directly from a free kick, in both cases kicking too high. Saudi Arabia effectively manages to divert the opponent’s maneuver towards the outside players, caged by punctual doublings. So the Mexicans look for a vent on the central lines, arming Chavez and Pineda’s right foot from the edge, with Al-Owais not having too many difficulties blocking their attempts. The Arab midfield is suffering and decides to put it on the body, thus limiting the opposing offensives and at the same time taking away the fluidity of the game.

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In any case, neither Renard nor Martino are too satisfied with what they saw in the first half. So in Saudi Arabia Al-Hassan gives way to Madu, with Kanno returning to his natural position, while Mexico changes Vega with Antuna moving Lozano to the left. In the 47th minute the match unlocked: from a corner kick from the left, Montes extended his trajectory into the small area and Martin was the quickest of all to deflect the ball into the net. Two minutes later Oliver pardoned Alvarez for a second bookable foul on Al-Shehri, but the Saudis paid off again for their opponents’ ability in set pieces. In the 52nd minute Chavez draws a magical trajectory with his left foot from over 25 meters, for the Mexican double. It is essentially the knockout blow, from which Saudi Arabia never gets up again. Mexico tries to take advantage of it, considering the need to have the best goal difference. Lozano engages Al-Owais with a poisonous right foot at the near post (67′) and the goalkeeper repeats himself by also neutralizing Chavez’s long-range free-kick. The Napoli winger is the most inspired in the final phase of the match, he ranges over the entire offensive front often forcing the opponents to foul. He also tries from a standstill in recovery, with Al-Owais who rejects again. Blocked by the specter of missing out on card difference, Mexico laid down their weapons before the final whistle. The most basic triangulation between Bahbri and Al-Dawsari puts the latter in front of goal, who is cold and beats Ochoa in the fifth of seven minutes of added time. A goal that serves as a white flag for both.

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Martin resigned

At the end of the match, Mexican coach Gerardo Martino resigned. After his national team was eliminated from the World Cup, the coach announced his farewell to the bench: “I am primarily responsible for the pain we all share today. I take responsibility for the failure. My contract expired when the referee once the final whistle has blown, there is nothing more to be done”.

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