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Mexico concede last minute goal against Saudi Arabia, are eliminated from World Cup on goal differential.
Mexico concede last minute goal against Saudi Arabia, are eliminated from World Cup on goal differential. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images.

Mexico concede last minute goal against Saudi Arabia, are eliminated from World Cup on goal differential

The Mexicans needed a third goal to put them over second place Poland but the Saudi’s last minute goal was the decider.

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It could not have been a more intense final group stage game at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar. Mexico defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1, but a late concession in stoppage time left them in third place in the group behind Poland on a one goal differential. Poland lost 2-0 to Leo Messi and Argentina. 

With the result, El Tri suffered its first group stage elimination at any tournament since 1978. They had reached the knockout stages in each of their past eight appearances — since 1994. 

After an uneventful first half that saw Mexico miss several chances, hope was injected into the squad when Henry Martin gave them the breakthrough off a corner in the 47th minute. Mexican Midfielder Luis Chávez then delivered a beauty of a free-kick to give the team a 2-0 lead, reviving them hopes of getting a third to pass Poland for second place in the group. 

It was a dramatic exit for Mexico despite the win. All was well for El Tri as they led 2-0 into stoppage time. With Argentina beating Poland 2-0, Mexico needed a third goal and a clean sheet to advance. 

Had Mexico simply won the game 2-0, the two teams would have finished tied on points, goal difference, goals scored, goals conceded and head-to-head records, having tied each other in their opening group game 0-0.

But the Saudis had a different idea and thought, “let’s bring them down with us,” as Salem Aldawsari got one back for Saudi Arabia in the final minutes of the match. 

After getting their first and second goals, the Mexicans went at the Saudis and never stopped running, and shooting from long-range. Martin’s first goal of the game was the first goal for the team in the World Cup after going goalless through their first two and a half matches. 

The Mexicans were very close on multiple occasions to getting the much needed third goal. Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano scored, but was offside. Martin could have scored his second of the game on an open volley, but kicked it over the bar, immediately dropping his head. 

More pain for Mexico ensued as substitute Uriel Antuna found space behind the Saudi defense and found the net, but again was offside. 

While Mexico were never considered world beaters or even favorites to win the tournament, failure to reach the knockout stages is a huge let down as their consecutive appearances in round of 16 has come to an end. 

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