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The Mexican national team wrapped up its four-game pre-World Cup tour with a 1-0 stoppage time loss to Portugal. The 92nd-minute goal, which came when Bruno Alves got his head on a free kick, will leave a bitter taste in Mexico’s mouth, as El Tri played well and were unlucky not to pick up a goal or two themselves.
Miguel Herrera put out a starting eleven with seven changes from the side that faced Bosnia on Tuesday, and one which is likely to be quite similar to the XI that will take the field against Cameroon in El Tri’s first World Cup game.
Both teams came to play, and Mexico looked much more dangerous than they had against Bosnia. Héctor Moreno gave Portugal an early warning with his 2nd-minute goal, which was correctly disallowed for offside. Despite that early hint of a threat, it was Portugal that had the most dangerous chances in the first half, generating more shots and more shots on goal, but José de Jesús Corona was there to make the necessary saves.
Corona was one of the most-scrutinized players on the field for Mexico, given that the big question surrounding Mexico’s lineup for Brazil is “Who will be the starting goalkeeper?” Herrera is still debating between Corona and Guillermo Ochoa, and he gave each keeper 45 minutes tonight to stake their claim. Both Chuy and Memo are in good form, and their performances tonight will not make Herrera’s final decision any easier.
Portugal was missing some of their stars, most notably Cristiano Ronaldo, but they were still able to threaten Mexico’s goal. Nevertheless, Mexico really came into their own in the second half and were unlucky not to score. Andrés Guardado and Héctor Herrera both got off a pair of threatening shots, but it was the two substitute strikers who nearly combined for the opening goal. In the 88th minute, Chicharito Hernández sent Alan Pulido one-on-one with goalkeeper Eduardo Carvalho, only for the Portuguese netminder to make a great block on the young forward’s shot.
Minutes later, Bruno Alves got his head on a free kick, sending the ball between Ochoa and the post to give Portugal the 1-0 win and highlight Mexico’s traditional problem with aerial defending. Despite that, Mexico turned in a convincing performance that was only lacking in a final product.
Mexico will take on Cameroon on Friday, July 13th at noon in their first game in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Mexico: José de Jesús Corona (Guillermo Ochoa 46′), Francisco Rodríguez, Rafael Márquez, Héctor Moreno, Miguel Layún, Héctor Herrera (Javier Aquino 85′), Paul Aguilar, Juan José Vázquez, Andrés Guardado (Marco Fabián 77′), Giovano dos Santos (Javier Hernández 58′), Oribe Peralta (Alan Pulido 77′).
Portugal: Eduardo Carvalho, Joao Pereira (Ruben Amorim 80′), Luis Neto, Bruno Alves, André Almeida, Fábio Coentrão (Rafael Silva 75′), Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Adelino André Vieira (Silvestre Manuel Varela 58′), Nani, Ederzito Antonio Macedo (Hélder Postiga 64′).