Mexico 0, Portugal 1: Stoppage time heartbreak for Mexico in final World Cup tune up

June 6, 11:35 PM

Mexico head to Brazil having lost their last two matches, but — hopefully — also having learned a great deal in the process. They didn't deserve the outcome they received tonight, but that is what makes football appealing, and this Mexican side so endearing. 

A good process doesn't always equal good results. If that was the case, there'd be a severe lack of drama involved in the beautiful game. Mexico know this all too well on a night when they dominated the pace of the game and possession of the ball, but still came up short.

The Goal

GOAL! Bruno Alves (POR) - 90th + 3rd minute. Utilizing a quick counter, Portugal won a free-kick in the attacking third. Jose Moutinho delivered the ball into the box, and an open Alves leaped to get his head to it, and direct the ball past a diving Guillermo Ochoa.

Man Of The Match

In the air, or on the ground, Jose Moutinho constantly sent balls past the Mexican back line that reached the Portuguese attack. With Mexico dictating so much of the action, Portugal needed a reliable counter attack to keep things from getting out of hand. Every single time, it went through Moutinho who was brilliant in his ability to both move the ball forward, as well as hit targets with passes that always put them into dangerous space.

The Other Man (Of The Match)

A lot of online criticism was directed toward Mexican left back Miguel Layuna. It's hard to pile on him for defensive deficiencies when he's being asked to push deep into the attacking third. He failed to get in sync with Guardado on the left side, but the defender wasn't at fault. There was a lot of confusion on that side of the pitch with Giovanni dos Santos having a hard time deciding if he was a left side striker or a center forward. Layuna was the most consistently effective player in attack, holding possession and being selective with his crosses.

The Controversy

Despite Portugal getting a little bit more physical in the second half with the Mexican attackers, the match was the most friendly of friendlies. The only real controversy was found in Mexican manager Miguel Herrera's decision to bring in Guillermo Ochoa at the half. Jesus Corona was playing exceedingly well for Mexico, making two saves and distributing the ball well from goal kicks.

Nonetheless, Herrera still hasn't made up his mind on which keeper will start for him against Cameroon next Friday despite Corona seeming to be an obvious level above Ochoa in terms of quality.

The Takeaway

Mexico played so well through an almost cautious approach in the build up toward attack, but once they brought possession into the attacking third, they became reckless, shooting from distances they had no business shooting and making passes that are most politely described as hopeful. The discipline that got them the opportunity to score disappeared the moment they actually tried to put the ball in the net.

Even though none of Ronaldo, Meireles and Pepe took part, Portugal remain a strong side, and for 80 of the first 90 minutes of the match, Mexico quite clearly bossed them around the pitch. That was a good performance, and if they can focus on that in the aftermath of Friday night's result, then the friendly was a success. However, if thoughts are instead transferred to losing back-to-back matches, Mexico could find itself plagued by a lack of confidence.

Overall, they're a good side. One that hang with anyone. They just have to be as careful with their finishing as they are in getting into a position to finish.

As for Portugal, they often seemed like a broken team on Friday, not really fully there. The injuries to the previously mentioned players easily explain this. However, in a group with Germany, the United States and Ghana, Portugal may not be able to afford the luxury of a jerry-rigged squad without the likes of CR7 et al.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Jared Wickerham

June 6, 10:41 PM

FINAL - Mexico 0, Portugal 1: Bruno Alves scores in stoppage time to put Portugal ahead

June 6, 10:41 PM

Despite Mexico's utter dominance of the pace during the second half, it was Portugal who broke the deadlock deep in stoppage time when Jose Moutinho delivered a free-kick onto the head of Portuguese captain Bruno Alves, who put it past the outstretched arms of Guillermo Ochoa for the win.

It's a bitter loss for Mexico, but there's still a lot to be encouraged about. El Tri dominated play for the majority of the match, and it took an amazing header from Alves to beat them. It's also only a friendly, and once again, Mexico can learn that as much as they might dominate possesion and pace, they still need to finish.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Jared Wickerham

June 6, 10:08 PM

LIVE - Mexico 0, Portugal 0: Chicharito replaces dos Santos

June 6, 10:08 PM

Everyone's favorite Manchester United substitute from Mexico has come into the game in the 58th minute to replace Gionvanni dos Santos, who looked out of place in an out-and-out striker role. Perhaps better suited to a center forward position, dos Santos twice sent in strikes from distance that missed the target by a significant margin, before appearing to suffer a minor injury.

Javier Hernandez failed to capitalize on his opportunity to start against Bosnia, perhaps with things flowing much better for the rest of the Mexican team, Chicharito can score his first goal for Mexico since the Confederations Cup.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/AFP

June 6, 9:48 PM

LIVE - Mexico 0, Portugal 0: Halftime Stats

June 6, 9:48 PM

Mexico

  • Total shots: 5
  • Shots on target: 0
  • Completed passes: 212
  • Possession 54%
  • Corners: 2
  • Offsides: 2
  • Tackles 7/7
  • Fouls: 8

Portugal

  • Total shots: 7
  • Shots on target: 2
  • Completed passes: 175
  • Possession 46%
  • Corners: 2
  • Offsides: 2
  • Tackles 3/4
  • Fouls: 10

Mexico dominated the run of play in the first half, but Portugal has made the most of its counter attacks, in what's truly the most entertaining of the pr World Cup friendlies to date.

There is one change at the half to report for Mexico, with Guillermo Ochoa coming in as a substitute for Jesus Corona. The competition for the starting job in Brazil remains up for grabs between the two keepers. Corona had a very good first half. We'll see how Ochoa responds.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Jared Wickerham

June 6, 9:10 PM

LIVE - Mexico 0, Portugal 0: El Tri take upper hand early

June 6, 9:10 PM

Mexican fans hoped that the 1-0 loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina would be more of a learning opportunity than the beginning of a downward spiral. If the first twenty minutes of Mexico's friendly is anything to go by, it looks as though their wishes have come true.

While perhaps looking a little vulnerable to counter attacks up the flanks, Mexico has been in control through the first 25 minutes, often relying on Miguel Layun, playing in a left wing back role, to carry the ball up the left side and link directly from the defense to the attackers up front. When not going through Layun, Mexico has passed the ball well in the middle of the pitch, with Rafa Marquez often starting on the right side, but frequently moving into the center and pushing the ball up to the more attacking midfielders and Peralta up front.

Portugal has mainly reacted to Mexico's possession, countering when the opportunity rises, and almost scoring in the 23rd minute against the run of play. Fortunately, Jesus Corona was up to the challenge. The most notable player for Portugal has been Miguel Veloso. He's won three balls already, and immediately passed up the flank to start a counter.

It's been a highly entertaining friendly, so far, with a 50/50 crowd in Foxborough supporting Mexico and Portugal.

June 6, 8:02 PM

LIVE - Mexico vs. Portugal: Marquez in for Mexico, Ronaldo out for Portugal

June 6, 8:02 PM

The team sheets are out at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots (and New England Revolution) in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where Mexico and Portugal will try to iron out all the kinks in their respective squads ahead of the World Cup, which begins in less than one week.

For Mexico, the lineup we'll see tonight is very close to the one we're likely to see when they line up for their opening World Cup match against Cameroon on June 13th. Meanwhile, Portugal will make do tonight without Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Raul Meireles.

Mexico Starting XI

Corona; Marquez, Maza, Moreno, Aguilar, Layun; Vazquez, Guardado, Herrera, dos Santos, Peralta.

Portugal Starting XI

Eduardo; João Pereira, Neto, Bruno Alves, Coentrão; André Almeida, João Moutinho, Veloso; Nani, Éder, Vieirinha.

For a full preview of tonight's friendly, please see below.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Jim Young

June 6, 4:39 PM

Mexico vs. Portugal: Preview

June 6, 4:39 PM

Seven more days. That's all that's left before Mexico's first World Cup match in Brazil against Cameroon (June 13). Their opponents for Friday night's friendly, Portugal, will play their first game of the Group Stage three days later against Germany (June 16).

With Cristiano Ronaldo scrambling to get healthy in time, and Mexico's starting XI in a state of flux after being dominated by Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday, Mexico and Portugal's meeting in Foxborough has taken on an increasing amount of importance from when it was first scheduled as a final tune up before the World Cup.

The Details

Teams: Mexico vs. Portugal.

Time: 8:30 PM EST.

Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, USA.

Television: ESPN 2.

Injury Update

Mexico: Both Jesus Corona (back and neck) and Rafa Marquez (foot) are healthy, and expected to start.

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo (left thigh), Pepe (left leg) and Raul Meireles (right thigh) will all sit out.

Historic Head-to-Head

It's odd that Mexico and Portugal, nations with such storied football histories, have only met one time before — in the 2006 World Cup. Portugal came out on top of that encounter 2-1 in what was cited at the time as one of the best matches of the tournament.

3 Things To Watch

How Many In The Back Line?

Mexico is expected to go with five at the back once again, but the team seemed to have more success against an attack-minded side in Bosnia-Herzegovina with two holding midfielders. Manager Miguel Herrera was quick to change things up in the second half of Tuesday's friendly, switching from a 5-3-2 to a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, then moving on to a 4-2-2-2. Using dual defensive midfielders was the only strategy that had any success at holding the Bosnian attack back.

Corona Is Back

Can Jesus Corona steal the starting job in net for Mexico? After uninspired performances from Alfredo Talavera and Guillermo Ochoa, the door is wide open for Corona to return from the odd injury he suffered against Israel (in what was basically a Blanco testimonial match), and claim his place in Mexico's starting XI for the World Cup.

More Questions Up Front

Secure spots in the starting lineup for Mexico are few and far between, and nowhere is that more obvious than up front. Chicarito, Oribe Peralta, Raul Jimenez and Giovani dos Santos are all legitimate options, along with Alan Pulido (who hasn't had the same opportunity as the others to prove himself). However, none of the five forwards have been convincing in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup. It's expected that Peralta (the most likely to start against Cameroon in a week's time) and dos Santos will get the final chance to shine in attack, but if either have a rough outing, Chicharito might just swoop in, and be named to the starting XI.