Despite beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Group C’s final match, Mexico was eliminated from the World Cup on goal differential. Thus, Mexico exits World Cup despite beating Saudi Arabia. Despite a third-place finish behind Poland thanks to Salem Al-late Dawsari’s goal, Mexico won thanks to second-half goals from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez. Mexican players tried to score a third goal to improve their team’s goal differential and avoid elimination by FIFA’s fair play rules.
After pulling off one of the tournament’s biggest upsets with a victory over Argentina in their opening match, Saudi Arabia promptly fell to earth with a 2-0 loss to Poland in their second contest. To prove they were more than a fluke, coach Herve Renard urged his team to make history in Saudi football by advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1994.
Mexico exits World Cup despite beating Saudi Arabia
Mexico’s chances of advancing to the round of 16 for a record eighth straight World Cup were slim after they lost both of their opening group stage matches for the first time in 44 years. Manager Gerardo Martino of Mexico changed things by starting Martin in the attack instead of the back five he used in their 2-0 loss to Argentina. It almost paid off right away when Hirving Lozano played Alexis Vega through on goal, but Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais sprinted out to deny the shot.
One of the heroes in their 2-1 victory over Argentina, Al-Owais tentatively palmed away a bouncing cross before a diving Martin and held weak attempts by Chavez and Orbelin Pineda. Saudi Arabia, who had already lost defender Ali Al-Bulayhi to injury, had Mohamed Kanno’s free kick go just wide.
Mexico kept trying to score, but their best chance came when Ali Al-diving Hassan’s header, with less than a minute remaining in the first half, narrowly missed the far post. Shortly after the half, Chavez tested Al-Owais, and Martin eventually broke the deadlock with a close-range finish off a Cesar Montes corner.
Five minutes later, Chavez smashed a free kick from 30 yards into the top corner for Mexico’s second goal. Lozano had a goal disallowed for offside as Mexico pressed for a third goal while keeping an eye on the score between Argentina and Poland. Martin missed a golden opportunity, and Al-Owais saved another free kick from Chavez while diving to his right to smother a Lozano shot. Next, Uriel Antuna had another goal ruled out for offside before Al-Dawsari scored in stoppage time.