Mexico fights till the end, but misses out

The string of spectacular stops by Saudi goalkeeper Mohamed Al Owais and two disallowed efforts denied Mexico the elusive third goal.
Mexico fights till the end, but misses out
DT Next Bureau

LUSAIL: Mexico scored twice in five second half minutes in a thrilling last-ditch bid to stay in the World Cup, beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Wednesday but agonisingly missing out on the Round-of-16 on goal difference.

In one of the most exciting group finales of the World Cup, goals from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez catapulted Mexico back into contention. But, a string of spectacular stops by Saudi goalkeeper Mohamed Al Owais and two disallowed efforts denied it the elusive third goal.

The Mexican rally took the battle for Group C down to the wire in a breathtaking second half, where at one stage it looked like the Central American side would miss out to Poland for having more yellow cards. But, Saudi striker Salem Al-Dawsari netted in stoppage time to make goal difference the decider.

Orbelin Pineda and Chavez were the engines for Mexico in a high-octane match that the Saudis struggled to get into. Pineda was the catalyst with a low shot saved, a diving header blocked and a long-range strike deflected wide of the post early on.

His team broke the deadlock two minutes after half-time when Cesar Montes’s deft back-heel from a corner found Martin, who bundled the ball over the line in a crowded goalmouth. Mexico doubled the lead on 52 minutes when Chavez’s powerful free-kick 20 metres out sailed blissfully into the corner of the goal.

Hirving Lozano found the net, but had his effort disallowed. Substitute Uriel Antuna had a late effort ruled out for offside before Al-Dawsari shattered Mexican hopes.

Result: Saudi Arabia 1 (S Al-Dawsari 90) lost to Mexico 2 (H Martin 47, L Chavez 52)

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