In-form attackers Raul Jimenez and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano help El Tri to an emphatic win for new coach Tata Martino.
Surely new Mexico coach Tata Martino was pleased with his team’s performance in Friday’s 3-1 win over Chile. Plenty of players had a hand in the victory, seemingly adapting to the tactical requirements issued by Martino.
Raul Jimenez (pictured above) showcased his penalty expertise in minute 52, neatly slotting home past Chile’s Gabriel Arias to open the scoring. Twelve minutes later, defender Hector Moreno deftly netted a header to double the lead and, only a minute later, Chucky Lozano – arguably Mexico’s biggest star – chipped Arias after being sent free into the box by Rodolfo Pizarro.
Mexico looked fired up and dominant right from kickoff and it looked like the players were really up for this match against Chile, a team that has humbled them in the recent past, the 7-0 rout in 2016 is still exceedingly painful for El Tri fans.
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Despite controlling the play, Mexico’s veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was forced to take action a few times in the first half, including a skillful reflex save early in the half when he instinctively reacted to a close-range header by Arturo Vidal.
Celebrating his milestone achievement of 100 caps for his country, Ochoa showed every sign that he is still as good as ever. He successfully showed the fans, the coach and the media that he remains very much Mexico’s best goalkeeper and looks to remain No. 1 for a few more years at least.
Monterrey’s attacking midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro with his patented change-of-pace style had a very decent game though he was mainly used out wide, often swapping wings with Chucky Lozano. He looked like the player he was while at Chivas, and Monterrey fans will be pleased with his performance, hoping he returns to his club in similar form.
Andres Guardado had an indifferent game after getting booked for a rash tackle very early on, and he never looked quite comfortable. He was replaced by a hungry looking Erick Gutierrez in the second half.
Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano are the future of Mexico’s attack and they looked very good in this game. Both showed that they can score goals for their country as well as for their clubs. Both will return to their clubs in a good vein of form. Chucky especially surely has incurred more interest from bigger clubs looking for his signature this summer.
Diego Lainez, the young Real Betis player, came on for Chucky deep into the second half and though he did not have much time, he showed sparks of quality. We can hope he starts against Paraguay Tuesday night.
Perhaps the only negative thing to take from this game is the lack of a clean sheet because despite his first-half heroics, Guillermo Ochoa had little to do in the second half. However a lapse in concentration by his defenders allowed Club America star Nico Castillo to rifle in a shot to obtain a small degree of compensation from an otherwise dismal performance from Chile.
As Tata said in the post game press conference, we must all keep our feet on the ground and not get too excited because even though it was a convincing win against a team that has been difficult in the past, it was just a friendly.
However based on this game alone, things definitely look exciting right now for Mexico and perhaps Martino’s effect on the squad and style of play is already starting to take effect. All we can say at this moment is it was a great game to watch and a good morale-boosting win for the team and its fans.