Portugal beats Mexico late on Bruno Alves header

Published Friday, June 6, 2014 11:05 PM by Jaime Nenclares

Friendly is the last game to use whenever Mexico and Portugal match up and it was no different this this Friday at Gillette Stadium. Several hard tackles were put in as El Tri played their best game yet in the World Cup warm-up matches.  Unfortunately, it was not enough to beat a Ronaldo-less Portugal side. Bruno Alves headed home the only goal in the 90+ minute and that was the only goal of the game.

El Tri had multiple chances and managed to ping the ball around well but they were toothless with the final ball.  The finishing simply must be better in Brazil or they will find themselves coming home after three matches.

In the defense Mexico were, as usual, not tight on the flanks. The backline was nonetheless much improved than against Bosnia and it shows that both Marquez and Paul Aguilar were important factors that were missing in that loss. Both teams created chances in the up and down attacking affair.  Portugal had the first excellent chance to put a goal on the scoreboard when Eder was played through on goal only to have 'Chuy' Corona make a fantastic parry. Eder had a few other quality chances to score but just could not put the ball into the back of the net.

The second half was better for Mexico as they had more purpose in their attacks, especially after Javier Hernandez was substituted on for Gio Dos Santos. It seems that Hernandez has learned that he cannot always shoot and he created more opportunities, with the most important being closer to the end when he played through Alan Pulido, but the Portuguese goalie demonstrated just how clutch he could be when he denied the Tigres striker.

Near the end Portugal were getting restless and their manner of play got even more aggressive as they were putting in some hard tackles earning two yellows within a span of five minutes. Shortly after Pulido missed a great chance to score, Mexico conceded a freekick and Portugal took full advantage as Bruno Alves rose to head home Moutinho's free kick.  Once again the poor Mexico set piece defense reared its ugly head.

A bittersweet finish shows that Mexico lack an attacker that can finish. Mexico controlled its fair share of the match with 53% possession but the game ended up going Portugal's direction, had Portugal had Ronaldo then the game would have been completely different.

The five man defense that Mexico fielded worked quite well supporting the attack but defensively they had trouble when the wingbacks were slow getting back.  It could work well against a team like Cameroon who try getting the ball to Eto'o most the game but against Croatia it could be costly giving away the numbers in the midfield.