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.
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.
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.
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