DENVER, Colo. – Mexico played Costa Rica on Thursday night in the second game of the Concacaf Nations League Semifinals doubleheader at Mile High Stadium. Earlier, the USMNT defeated Honduras 1-0 on a goal by Jordan Siebatcheu. Guillermo Ochoa was called upon as the match went to penalties.
Guillermo Ochoa Rescues Mexico in Penalties Against Costa Rica
Mexico had more of the ball and more positive play in the first half. However, the final product was missing. Their best chance came just eight minutes in. Chucky Lozano chested a ball in the box to himself up for a near-bicycle kick. Goalkeeper Leonel Moreira got a touch to it and the ball went off the crossbar.
Costa Rica pressed Mexico well, forcing goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to play well with his feet. He had to come off his line several times to clear the ball and made a few saves.
The narrative continued in the second half with Mexico playing out of the back and struggling in the final third. With just a minute left in regular time, the game boiled over. Allan Cruz and Uriel Antuna were both given yellow cards after a hard tackle by the Mexican along the Costa Rica touchline. The players started a shoving circle.
Moments later, a foul was called at midfield and players from both teams gathered to shove and exchange words. The El Tri-leaning crowd chanted the P word for the third time, prompting the Public Address announcer to say that the match could be suspended if the discriminatory behavior by the fans continued.
The game was breifly stopped for a minute or two in extra time before resuming, with no officials or personnel from either team leaving the field. Regular time ended 0-0 and the match headed to penalties.
Uriel Antuna and Óscar Duarte both missed the net in penalties, sending the match to sudden death penalties. After Jesús Gallardo converted his take, Ochoa dove high and to his right to save the take from Allan Cruz to win the match for Mexico 5-4.
🧤⚽🇲🇽💥 ¡Héroe Guillermo Ochoa detiene el penal!
México está en la gran final del Final Four 👏👏👏
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) June 4, 2021
Three Key Takeaways:
Mexico struggled, just like the U.S.: Mexico looked decent from box to box for the most part. Just like their opponents for Sunday’s final, they struggled once they got to the final third. That will need to change.
Ochoa again an El Tri hero: Guillermo Ochoa is a Mexican National Team and Liga MX legend. He showed it again tonight with the save to win the game.
Don’t cross the line: Unfortunately, this game was marred by unsporting behavior from the supporters, most of them wearing green and red. The P word is unacceptable and was weaponized by the crowd. I’m exhausted we still have to talk about this in 2021.
Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB