Team Mexico is poised to reach the semifinals after its tense victory over Argentina.
José de Jesús Godínez converted a penalty kick in minute 80 as 10-man Mexico defeated Argentina in a group stage match at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, on Thursday. El Tri now leads Group A with 4 points and can clinch a spot in the semifinals with a tie against Ecuador on Sunday.
Godínez – loan to León this season by the Chivas – earned a measure of redemption after his missed penalty against Panama cost Mexico’s Under-22 team a win in the first group stage game.
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Team Mexico Coach Jaime Lozano has a full roster of Liga MX players, though several of his first-choice selections were not released by their club teams. They include Pumas right back Alan Mozo, Pachuca midfielder Erick Aguirre, América midfielder Francisco Córdova, Toluca midfielder Alan Medina, Monterrey defender César Montes and Atlas defender Jesús Angulo, among others.
The majority of players on Mexico’s roster were with Lozano at this summer’s Toulon Tournament in which El Tri finished in third place.
Gallos Blancos forward Paolo Yrizar drew a penalty for Mexico in minute 18 and Tigres midfielder Francisco Venegas converted. Twenty minutes later, Argentina won a free kick on the left flank although video replays showed Ulises Cardona did not touch the Argentina player who flopped to the ground.
On the ensuing free kick, Argentina’s Leonel Mosevich got his head on the ball and it continued to the back post where Adolfo Gaich had been left unmarked. The burly striker fired home from close range to equalize the score in minute 38.
Just before halftime, Mexico Captain Ismael Govea was shown a red card. Coach Lozano readjusted his tactical alignment into a 4-2-2-1 and El Tri dominated possession for long stretches during the first 30 minutes of the second half.
Godínez, especially, was very active up front, holding the ball and challenging every high ball (very successfully). Lozano brought in his three subs to keep his midfield fresh, while the back line did a superb job keeping Argentina at bay.
With 11 minutes remaining, the Godínez made a move toward the box and was taken down near the touch line. He immediately grabbed the ball and indicated he was going to take the penalty kick. The lanky striker sent the goalie the wrong way and rippled the netting to put Mexico ahead 2-1.
Lozano then shifted his line-up to a 4-4-1 and El Tri worked hard to limit Argentina’s probes into their offensive third. Goalie José Hernández made two nice saves in the final 10 minutes and Mexico held on for the win.