Goalless Mexico on brink of World Cup elimination

Nov 26, 2022, 12:33 PM | Updated: Nov 27, 2022, 2:58 am

Mexico's Jesus Gallardo reacts at the end of the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina a...

Mexico's Jesus Gallardo reacts at the end of the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Mexico, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Argentina won 2-0. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Mexico’s inability to score — or stop Lionel Messi — has put the team on the edge of missing the knockout stage at the World Cup for the first time since 1978.

Mexico has gone without a World Cup goal for 384 minutes since their second group stage match at the 2018 tournament in Russia. The scoring drought continued Saturday night in Qatar with a 2-0 loss to Messi and Argentina, dropping El Tri to last place in Group C.

Mexico has one remaining game, against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. El Tri can no longer win the group but needs to beat Saudi Arabia to have a chance of placing second and advancing to the round of 16 for the eighth straight World Cup. However, a win may not be enough. If Poland and Argentina draw in their final Group C match, or if Argentina wins, goal difference will determine who places second.

“We are hurt, but as long as the possibility exists, we must continue fighting,” defender Nestor Araujo said. “While there is a chance, we will fight.”

Mexico came to Qatar looking to advance past the round of 16 and play in an elusive “quinto partido” — a fifth game — something the team hasn’t accomplished since hosting the 1986 tournament.

Without goals, Mexico had to depend on stalwart goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who stopped Robert Lewandowski’s penalty attempt to preserve a scoreless draw in El Tri’s World Cup opener against Poland.

But Ochoa was helpless against Messi’s second-half blast from distance in the 64th minute on Saturday night. Enzo Hernandez added a second goal for Argentina in the waning minutes.

At the final whistle, Ochoa and Messi grasped hands, and the goalkeeper known by his nickname Memo affectionately patted a gloved hand on his opponent’s head. Ochoa did not speak to reporters after the game.

“We did our job and unfortunately we left with defeat,” Mexico forward Henry Martin said. “So it hurts, but tomorrow we have to be thinking about what’s next in the next game, because we have one last chance and we have to take advantage of it.”

It might be the final World Cup for both men, who in Qatar each joined an exclusive club of players who have been to five editions of of the tournament.

Like Argentina depends on Messi, El Tri have looked to Ochoa because of their sputtering offense. Ochoa’s save of Lewandowski’s penalty attempt added to a World Cup mystique that started when he fended off six Brazilian shots — including a dangerous header from Neymar — in a group-stage draw against the hosts in the 2014 World Cup.

But Ochoa’s efforts couldn’t hide a lack of offense. The last two players who scored for Mexico, back in the group stage in 2018, were Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Carlos Vela, who weren’t on the roster for Mexico in Qatar.

Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who is from Argentina, drew criticism for his roster choices, including the snub of Chicharito, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer who hasn’t played for his national team since 2019.

El Tri has never beaten Argentina in four attempts at the World Cup, and Martino’s worst defeat as Mexico coach was at the hands of his countrymen in September 2019, when Lautaro Martínez scored a hat trick in a 4-0 win.


AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Goalless Mexico on brink of World Cup elimination