They did it! The Guatemalans got the tie they clearly were playing for.
Sunday Night provided El Tri fans 6 less reasons to cheer for than they had Thursday night. To do this the Guatemalans did one thing the Cubans failed to do all night against the Mexican National team: play defense.
They needed to.
Three major subplots ushered the game to this conclusion: Mexico’s inability to score, Guatemala’s Defense, and missed penalties.
- Mexico’s Inability to Score
The partnership of Andres Guardado, Carlos Vela, Giovani Dos Santos, and Oribe Peralta did well to link up with each other often in the final third. They were able to connect with as many passes as necessary, but just couldn’t get very much space to shoot at the Guatemalan goal.
With the exception of a couple of chances that Oribe Peralta will have nightmares about and the one Hector Herrera banged off of the post, Mexico didn’t have very many clear cut opportunities to score.
- Guatemala’s Defense
Guatemala did a very good job of disrupting the flow of the game. Their marking and aggressiveness made the game ugly to watch at times. They took professional fouls often when they needed to slow down Mexico’s offensive flow (24 fouls and 4 yellow cards).
Paulo Motta stood on his head tonight: turning away shot after shot, catching crosses in the box, and punching balls out of the box to start counter attacks.
Occasionally they were able to get into Mexico’s passing lanes and get out on the counter with very little invention or creativity.
- Officiating Woes
Fans of El Tri has quite a bit to complain about in regards to the officiating. Even if we ignore Jose Contreras’s red card in the 76th minute, El Tri should have been awarded a penalty in the 16th minute when Jose Contreras appears to punch the ball away from Oribe Peralta head in the box.
The Referee called 36 fouls between the two teams and showed several cards to numerous players. That may sound like a lot, but CONCACAF matches are generally very physical contests; this match didn’t disappoint.
I couldn’t help but wonder why Marco Pappa didn’t feature more of a role in Sunday night’s proceedings, as he didn’t come on until later on in the contest. What’s even weirder is that Pappa doesn’t come on until Jose Contreras was sent off.
Guatemala need to beat Cuba in a couple of days in order to stay alive in the Gold Cup, while Mexico only needs to tie against Trinidad & Tobago to advance in the Gold Cup.