Mexico vs Saudi Arabia, Group C, qualifying stages, reactions, latest, updates

Mexico vs Saudi Arabia, Group C, qualifying stages, reactions, latest, updates

Mexico pulled away painfully from the World Cup on Wednesday, despite beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 in their dramatic final in Group C.

Second-half goals from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez secured victory for Mexico, but they were third behind Poland after Salem Al-Dawsari’s late kick.

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Mexico faced elimination under FIFA fair play rules as they desperately pressed for a third goal to improve the goal difference.

The teams drew 0-0 with each other in the opening game, meaning their head-to-head records couldn’t split the teams and decide who would advance.

As such, the pair is set to split according to fair play records – namely which team gets the fewer red and yellow cards during the tournament.

The yellow card is evaluated at one point. An indirect red card (two yellows in a row) counts as three points. A straight red is four points, a direct red card after a yellow card is five points. The team with the fewest combined points from their game – aka the cleaner record – advances.

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Saudi Arabia’s defeat of Argentina in the opening match was one of the biggest disappointments of the World Cup, but in their second match they were grounded in a 2-0 loss to Poland.

Coach Herve Renard urged his players to write themselves in Saudi football history by reaching the qualifying rounds for the first time since 1994.

Having failed to win either of their first two group games in 44 years, Mexico knew that victory was essential if they were to have a chance to make it to the last 16 in their eighth consecutive World Cup.

Mexico coach Gerardo Martino dropped the five he used in their 2-0 defeat to Argentina and brought Martin to lead the offensive.

It paid off almost instantly, but Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais raced to block Alexis Vega after he was hidden behind the defense by Hirving Lozano.

Al-Owais, one of the protagonists of the 2-1 win over Argentina, temporarily removed a bouncing cross in front of the mover Martin and made weak attempts by Chavez and Orbelin Pineda.

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Mohamed Kanno took a free kick for Saudi Arabia which saw defender Ali Al-Bulayhi escape with an injury and was added to the growing list of casualties.

Mexico continued to attack without success, and Ali Al-Hassan nearly drove most of the Saudi crowd into frenzy late in the first half with a sudden header from inside the far post.

Chavez tested Al-Owais soon after the break and Martin escaped a stalemate as he returned at close range after Cesar Montes cleverly flipped a corner.

Mexico’s second goal came just five minutes later as Chávez twisted a sensational free kick from the 30m into the upper corner.

Watching the score between Argentina and Poland, Mexico pressed relentlessly for the third goal and Lozano’s effort was voided by offside.

Martin shone when he got a fantastic chance, and Chavez was deflected another free kick by Al-Owais, who swung to his right to take a drive from Lozano.

Then Uriel Antuna was denied another goal due to offside before Al-Dawsari’s late kick ended the drama.

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