Mexico has qualified for the second round of the soccer World Cup in Russia despite losing 3-0 to Sweden in its final group match today.
The national team known as El Tri finished second in group F behind Sweden due to an inferior goal difference although both sides finished on six points with two wins and one loss apiece.
Mexican fans, both at the stadium in Ekaterinburg and back home, endured a highly anxious last few minutes of the match as attention turned to the result of the group’s other final match, which was played simultaneously between defending champions Germany and South Korea.
A draw in that match would have been enough for Mexico to advance but with the score locked at 0-0 until injury time started, there were fears that the Germans could score a late goal and edge Mexico out of the tournament due to a superior goal difference.
But in the end it was Korea that surprised with a goal in the 92nd minute of the match before following up with a second in the 96th minute to well and truly secure Mexico’s path through to the round of 16 and send the Germans packing.
Social media quickly filled up with memes and posts praising South Korea for its victory and thanking the team for helping secure Mexico’s passage through to the next round of the World Cup.
Scores of social media users declared their love for the East Asian nation and many Mexico City residents suggested going to the Zona Rosa district of the capital — where the city’s Korean community is centered — to show their affection and gratitude to the citizens of many Mexicans’ new favorite country, at least for today.
El Tri will now play the winner of group E which, depending on results in the two matches to be played later today, could be Brazil, Switzerland or Serbia.
The 3-0 loss to Sweden will no doubt serve as a wake-up call for El Tri’s Colombian coach Juan Carlos Osorio and his players after they enjoyed a dream start to the tournament with victories over Germany and South Korea in their first two matches.
After a scoreless first half today, Mexico conceded its first goal in the 50th minute of play before goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa’s defenses were broken twice more in the 62nd and 74th minutes.
The second goal came via a penalty after the referee ruled that a Swedish player had been fouled in the penalty area. Sweden’s captain Andreas Granqvist made no mistake from the spot, drilling the ball into the back of the net.
The third and final goal was an own goal after the ball deflected off the leg of Mexican defender Edson Álvarez and past Ochoa into the goal. Mexico had 20 shots of its own during the match but only three were on target.
Following the conclusion of the match, Mexico’s players and support staff gathered in the middle of the pitch and after the conclusion of the Germany-South Korea match a couple of minutes later, it was confirmed that El Tri would live to play another day at Russia 2018.
While celebrations were muted among the players, there can be no doubt that the relief for them — and the team’s millions of supporters — was enormous.
Mexico’s fans in Russia can go ahead and book their accommodation in the southwestern Russian city of Samara, where Mexico will take on its round of 16 opponent on July 2, while those back home will no doubt be once again glued to their screens.
Mexico News Daily