PASADENA, California. On a night in front of more than 82,000 spectators, Mexico and Wales played out a goalless draw that highlighted El Tri‘s struggles in front of goal.
From the outset of the game, the possession approach taken by the team generated early chances early and often for Mexico. Jesus Manuel “Tecatito” Corona opened the barrage of chances in the game’s fifth minute with a rising shot from outside the area that forced Wales goalkeeper to intervene and parry it above the crossbar.
But soon after, an end-to-end phase saw Wales got their best chance to score of the match. First, on a slow build, Harry Wilson tried to find Tommie Lawrence with a throughball inside the area, but Jesus Corona came to collect the ball and challenge the ball away from Lawrence.
Then, in the ninth minute, Hector Herrera evaded two defenders down the left and found Chicharito with a cross inside the area but the West Ham striker mistimed his header on frame.
Later in the first half, after captain Ashley Williams had to be subbed out due to a shoulder injury in the 18th minute, Wales generated two half-chances–errant shots by Harry Wilson and Aaron Ramsey. But that would be all that the Dragons would be able to generate for the opening half of the match.
And Mexico started to take the initiative as the half moved forward to try to test a side, that under Ryan Giggs, elected to focus their effort on their defensive approaches and disrupting Mexico’s lanes to penetrate them, reacting quickly to get into such a defensive posture and frustrate El Tri.
And on chances executed by Javier Aquino, Erick Gutierrez, as well as “Tecatito” Corona, the reaction Wales showed in defending turned a dribbling run with a finish into one that ended with a catch by Hennessey, and in Wales being able to end the danger after Erick Gutierrez’s moment of indecision in a tic-tac-toe approach on goal with “Tecatito”.
In the second half, El Tri‘s lack of maliciousness and guile in breaking away Welsh players’ interceptions limited the effectiveness of their chances. Ten minutes into the half, “Tecatito” latches onto the ball with space to shoot first time, but instead ends up losing the chance because he is not sure the window he had was his only window at that moment.
Erick Gutierrez and Jurgen Damm also have chances later on in the second half, but both of their chances, resulted either in their shots blocked or dealt with by the Wales goalkeeper.
But even more so, Mexico often struggled to use their possession to dismark Wales defenders in good chance creation positions. But seven minutes from the end of the 90, Marco Fabian found Giovani Dos Santos with a long ball over the top to create the game’s best chance. Giovani moved in 1 vs 1 against Wayne Hennessey with a hope to shoot, but Hennessey won the ball in a challenged and cleared the ball away.
Despite a chance by Javier Aquino on a rising shot soon after, Giovani Dos Santos’ chance on goal turned out to be the last significant chance of the match.
At the end of the match, manager Juan Carlos Osorio might have a lot to worry about with regards to getting a goal scorer. His El Tri showed an inability to show ruthlessness, guile, technique, and intuition in dangerous areas and situations where teams would deploy many defenders in both reactive and proactive situations.
In the end, Mexico has one more match to decide on the four to five players not making the final World Cup squad. That match takes place on Saturday, June 2 against Scotland at Estadio Azteca, and could feature the likes of Diego Reyes, Hirving Lozano (an unused substitute today) and Andrés Guardado more prominently.