GIn Group C of the preliminary round of the soccer World Cup, green is only the color of futile hope. All is lost for the green-white fans from Saudi Arabia and the green-white-red Mexicans after three games in Qatar. On a highly dramatic final day of the game, it won Mexico with 2:1. But that wasn’t enough to move ahead of Poland, who lost 2-0 to Argentina. Despite a number of chances, Mexico ended up missing a goal.
From the beginning, a game developed, accompanied by the deafening singing of the almost 85,000 fans, in which both played forward. The starting position left little choice. A draw could Saudi Arabia enough, but definitely not for the eighth round of 16 participation in a World Cup in a row for the Mexicans. Alexis Vega had his first big chance in the third minute when he ran for goal, but was denied by the rushing goalkeeper Mohammed al-Owais. The Saudi fans cheered wildly. Suddenly, Mexico’s substitute captain and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa appeared in the opposition half. Not to take matters into your own hands on the offensive, but to explain to colleagues how they could do better during an injury break.
Things went better right after half-time. After a corner, Cesar Montes extended the ball with his heel, Henry Martín put his foot down in the middle and celebrated the 1-0 (47th). Since Argentina also took the lead at the same time, the Mexicans were now level on points with Poland, but their goal difference was two goals worse. Still. Just five minutes later the ball flew back into the Saudi goal – and how! Luis Chávez curled a free kick into the top corner. A little later, the Mexican fans were screaming again (56′). First about Hirving Lozano’s goal, then about referee Michael Oliver’s decision: Offside! When Martin fell in the penalty area, the supporters demanded a penalty, but the Englishman decided again against Mexico (65′).
Good news came a little later from nearby Doha. Argentina had increased to 2-0. That meant Mexico were now tied not only on points but also on goals. Four points, 2:2 goals, plus a 0:0 in a direct duel – and now? In this case, the regulations of the world association provide for the fair play comparison as a decision. With Mexico having seven yellow cards but Poland just five, it took one more goal to go past. He fell – but through Salem al-Dawsari for Saudi Arabia (90 + 5). So for both of them it was the final appearance at the finals in Qatar in the Lusail final stadium.