Mexico caused the biggest upset so far of the 2018 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament by defeating defending champions Germany 1-0 in Moscow yesterday.
In a packed Luzhniki Stadium with an estimated 30,000 Mexicans in attendance, 22-year-old winger Hirving Lozano slotted a low shot past the diving German goalkeeper and into the back of the net in the 35th minute of the match, sending the thousands of Mexican fans present and millions back home into raptures.
In Mexico City, the simultaneous jumping in jubilation of millions watching in their homes, bars, restaurants or the capital’s central square known as the zócalo was so fervent that it caused an “artificial earthquake” just seconds after Mexico took the lead in the Russian capital.
The Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Investigations said that highly sensitive earthquake sensors detected tremors at two sites in Mexico City “possibly because of mass jumping.”
Back in Moscow, chants of “sí se puede,” or yes we can, rang out around the stadium as Mexican fans started to believe that the beloved national team known as El Tri could indeed complete an unlikely victory.
And in the end, they did. But the win didn’t come without several moments when Mexican supporters had their hearts in their mouths.
Just three minutes after Lozano’s impressive goal — set up by a deft pass from Mexico’s most famous football export Javier “Chicharito” Hernández — the Germans came very close to equalizing with a free kick, but Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa managed to get a touch on the ball and push it onto the top bar to save the day.
There were more anxious moments in the second half as Mexico’s goal came under repeated threats from Germany but the determined Mexican side continued to hold off the reigning champions, who hadn’t lost an opening game in a world cup since then-West Germany was beaten by Algeria in 1982.
The victory was a redemption of sorts for the team’s Colombian coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, who has been widely criticized by pundits and a football-loving public for his tactics and management of the national team, but analysts praised Mexico for the pace of their attack.
In an on-field interview after the match, Osorio said that “all the credit” went to the players because “we designed a plan and executed it very well.”
The goal-scorer Lozano said, “I don’t know if it’s the biggest victory in [Mexico’s] history, but it’s one of the biggest for sure.”
Judging by the euphoric celebrations that broke out across the country, the significance of the win to the people of a country where rising levels of violent crime and the upcoming presidential election have dominated the news in recent times cannot be underestimated.
In Mexico City, around 20,000 fans gathered to celebrate the victory at the Angel of Independence monument on the capital’s most famous boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma.
For hours after the referee blew the final whistle, revelers chanted passionately, belted out the famous song Cielito Lindo, danced in the streets, drank beer and tequila and dared to dream that just maybe 2018 could be the year that Mexico goes further than it has ever gone before in a world cup.
“I am incredibly happy,” said one fan who went to the Angel monument with his girlfriend and son as part of a Father’s Day outing. “It’s a double gift: Mexico won and I get to celebrate with my son.”
A 54-year-old housewife who also rushed to join in the festivities told the New York Times that celebrating the win was a cathartic experience.
“This victory matters because it gives us the opportunity to express the joy we all carry inside as Mexicans, which we were unable to release and express due to all the bad news, the politics [and] the natural disasters,” Lucía Colunga said.
“We are here to let out all of that happiness that we have bottled up,” she added.
President Enrique Peña Nieto also celebrated the victory, writing on Twitter: “Confirmed: Mexico competes and wins against the best in the world. Many congratulations to @miseleccionmx! Great game!”
Doña Angela Merkel está muy enojada por la derrota de la selección alemana… jajajajaja. Los memes que genera el ingenio son divertidos…
¡Sobre todo cuando vienen precedidos del triunfo! pic.twitter.com/a3G3TLgwIr
— Eduardo Iracheta L. (@eirachetal) June 17, 2018
Millions more Mexicans lauded El Tri’s performance on social media and shared memes that took a humorous look at the triumph.
One which circulated widely showed a photograph of German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a telephone to her ear accompanied by the text: “Donald? It’s me Angela. Please build the wall.”
Mexico will take on South Korea in its second first-round match in Rostov-On-Don at 10:00am Saturday.