Despite hours of rain leading up to the match, Mexico took on Panama in the Estadio Azteca for a chance to seal their way to Russia next June. Panama, on the other hand, needed points in the clash and needed them bad. The game started heavily in Mexico’s favor, which was not surprising, as they dictated possession while Panama absorbed as much attack as they could. Although there were no goals in the first half, Mexico was looking like it could get the goal they needed.
After a sluggish first half, Jürgen Damm was taken off, and Hirving Lozano came into the match. It took only minutes for his impact to be huge for Mexico. In the 53rd minute, Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona fought for the ball in the Panama area, turned, and found Lozano for the goal they were searching for.
The man from PSV carried his goal scoring streak with his club over to the national team. The lone goal was enough to claim the victory over Panama, and Mexico is officially booked for the World Cup in Russia next June. The pressure from the previous cycle was never felt with this team, and now Juan Carlos Osorio can use his October matches to tinker and experiment with new formations/players.
- Ochoa, 9: Panama didn’t threaten a lot, but Ochoa slapped away all their chances with his typical flair.
- Ayala, 6: Didn’t need to do much which bodes well for his stock when they review the game.
- Reyes, 7: Closed down Panama’s attacks and brought the ball up with confidence.
- Araujo, 6: Sloppy passing in the first half, but recovered as the game went on.
- Damm, 5: Way too predictable, needs to work on his 1 v 1.
- Herrera, 7: Gassed out towards the end, yet, his quality was shown throughout the 90 minutes.
- Guardado, 6.5: Constant pressure was great to see, but his offensive presence was missing.
- Gallardo: 7: Somewhat of a quiet match for Gallardo, however, he did his job well.
- Vela, 5: Picked apart by Panama’s defense too many times. His lack of playing time with his club showed big time.
- Tecatito, 8: Fought hard throughout the match, and his assist was pure gold.
- Chicharito, 6: Had a few good looks, but as Mexico’s leading scorer, his presence needed to be more threatening.
- Lozano, 9: Scored a goal almost instantly, Man of the match, without a doubt.
- Montes, N/A
- Aquino, 5: You can’t miss a wide open shot only a few yards from goal.
Mexico will take on Costa Rica on the road on Tuesday, September 5. There are reports that some of the European club players will make their way back abroad since the ticket to Russia is now clinched.
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