Argentina 2-1 Mexico
Well, they gave it everything. From the first minute until the very last, Mexico pushed Argentina all the way, and were dreadfully unlucky to be sent home, beaten by yet another contender for “Goal Of The Tournament”. I’ve enjoyed the idiosyncratic Mexicans since they outplayed Iran in their opening match. As I said before on here, they have played with a joie de vivre that many teams in this tournament (not least England), and I’ll miss them sorely.
They came out of the traps like eleven greyhounds on steroids, and it was no great shock when Marquez shot them into the lead on five minutes. This couldn’t last long, though, and Crespo levelled things up five minutes later. Watching it at home, I kept turning to my girlfriend and saying, “they can’t keep going at this pace forever”, but they did. The turning point of the match came just before half-time, when Gabriel Heinze, trying to atone for a piece of ball control that would have graced Rio Ferdinand, hauled down Fonseca, who was clean through on goal. The referee should be made to answer the question of why he didn’t send Heinze off, and the conspiracy theorist in me is starting to question whether the referees have been ordered to keep the big teams in the tournament. I refer you to the previous match as well.
Both teams continued the frantic pace into extra-time, when Rodriguez volleyed in a fantastic goal. By this time, Mexico were clearly tired, but they kept fighting as much as they could until the final whistle. FIFA got what they wanted. A Germany-Argentina quarter-final. But the Mexicans can return home with their heads held defiantly high. If England play with the same level of commitment, pride and attacking flair this afternoon, we’ll all be more than happy, regardless of the result.