Russia 2018 Watch: Sweden, Mexico progress as Germany crash out
- Credit: Archant
Having beaten the World Cup holders Germany in their opening Group F fixture, Mexico were being tipped to go all the way.
El Tricolor have never gone beyond the ‘quinto partido’ – meaning fifth game (quarter-finals), so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, right?
Wrong! In truth, reaching the quarter-finals would be a massive achievement considering their possible last-16 opponents could be five-time winners Brazil, and strong Switzerland and Serbia sides.
However, because of events in ‘The Cartridge Family’ - the title of the fifth episode from season nine of the Simpsons (back in November 1997), many Mexican fans have been given reason to believe that 2018 may in fact be their year.
In the episode, Mexico are joined by my beloved Portugal in the final. It seems fairly innocent at this moment right, but there’s one significant detail regarding the episode.
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As our favourite cartoon family watch the television, an advert on the television screen introduces a football tournament between Mexico and Portugal coming to Springfield and depicts a Mexican player partying with several ladies – relating to a recent scandal which took place including a few Mexican players ahead of their opening 2018 World Cup game.
It seems like a natural coincidence given the lifestyle of some players, but given the show has predicted several events in recent history including the Greek financial situation, the FIFA corruption scandal, the Presidency of Donald Trump and the acquisition of Fox from Disney, one should be cautious when ridiculing the Mexicans’ chances, especially given the air of optimism that surrounds their side.
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Anyway, back to the matters at hand.
The Mexicans needed South Korea to at least hold the Germans in the other match, as they faced a spirited Sweden side, still in with a chance of progressing into the last 16 themselves.
Ahead of kick-off, West Ham’s Javier Hernández, who was making his 105th international appearance, required just one more goal to overtake former striker and his namesake Luis Hernández as the country’s top scorer in the World Cup – as both had four goals.
However, Hernández could have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons when the referee consulted with VAR after it was alleged the Mexican appeared to handle the ball in the area.
Yet, despite reviewing the incident, referee Néstor Pitana waved away the appeals and reprieved ‘Chicarito’.
Sweden did make the breakthrough, however, five minutes into the second half when Marcus Berg’s low cross was miscued by Viktor Claesson and fell kindly to Ludwig Augustinsson, who volleyed home at the back post for his first ever international goal.
Ten minutes later, matters got worse for the Mexicans when Héctor Moreno conceded a penalty, for a late challenge on Berg in the area.
Skipper Andreas Granqvist, having netted a penalty against South Korea, stepped up again to drill the spot-kick home into the top corner.
Sweden then grabbed a shock third when Claesson’s throw-in was helped on by substitute Isaac Kiese Thelin and ricocheted off the unfortunate Edson Álvarez, who turned the ball into his own net.
Mexico were holding onto hope that South Korea could hold Germany in the other match, but the Asian outfit did even better – scoring twice late on.
That meant the Germans were out and it’s the third straight tournament that has seen the defending champions exit at the group stage, following Spain (2014) and Italy (2010).