San Memo does it again for El Tri

first_imgHow many occasions has Guillermo Ochoa been there for Mexico now? The number has to exceed the number of fingers he has on both of his gloved hands. You can add another to the list tonight. El Tri needed him to get through, with Ochoa diving to deny a kick from the spot from Keysher Fuller. That gave Mexico the 5-4 win in penalties after the teams went to extra time level at a goal each.A Mexico win was hardly a given. Costa Rica pushed manager Tata Martino’s squad to the limits, and the tension in NRG Stadium could be felt even by those in the highest rows of the massive stadium.  Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Así la ronda de los penales (5-4): LO TAPÓ SAN MEMOOOOOOOOO, MÉXICOO SIGUE CON VIDAAAAA🇲🇽 México ❌ ✅ ✅ ✅ ✅ ✅🇨🇷 Costa Rica ✅ ✅ ❌ ✅ ✅ ❌ pic.twitter.com/06szpyKuD0— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) June 30, 2019Really, El Tri needed him before the critical save in the shootout. With the scoreline at 1-1 in the 108th minute, Costa Rica broke through Mexico’s back line. Jonathan McDonald ripped a shot toward the goal, but Ochoa extended to his left and used both hands to push the chance aside. “Memo made the save of the game,”  Mexico manager Tata Martino said after the match in his post-match news conference. “He stopped it and without it we wouldn’t have gone to penalties.” But it did go to penalties, and Ochoa was there again. It was a rare game for Mexico in that the opponent wanted to attack as well. Often in Concacaf, teams are happy enough to sit back and hope to hit Mexico on a counter or a set piece. Costa Rica wasn’t going to turn down those types of opportunities, but it was going for goals from the run of play as well. “That’s how these types of games are. We’re playing against an opponent that also is a candidate to be in the final, that has grown a lot and that has good players,” Ochoa said. “We knew it was going to be a very intense game. Always in the calculus, you think you’ll play Costa Rica later, not now.”The Ticos’ goal eventually came from a penalty that would’ve been reversed were there VAR in this tournament. As it was, the call stood – much to Martino’s frustration. Later, he asked the referee about a handball he spotted near midfield and earned a yellow card for his protest, his second of the tournament meaning he’ll be suspended from the touchline for the semifinal against Haiti. Better that than to not have his team in the game at all, though. That frustration falls to Gustavo Matosas. The Costa Rica boss congratulated Mexico on its win but also hinted that he felt his side may have been the better team over the long-haul.”You’re asking a question that doesn’t matter in football. In football, you can’t talk about justice,” he said, when asked if the Ticos should’ve moved on in the tournament. “The one who scores, wins.”The matchup always looked tough, but the night didn’t start with any signs of just how many of the Mexico fans in attendance would end up with their nails bitten off by the end of it. Mexico Gold Cup 2019Raul Jimenez’s opener just before the break was what Mexico needed. It was a calm finish from one of its veterans. And while those players kept their cool as the match stretched into extra time, the same shows of quality were tough to find at times. Andres Guardado and Jonathan dos Santos both have been struggling with hamstring injuries and Saturday night looked like players who are carrying knocks. Hector Moreno is fit for only limited minutes. That said, Martino enjoyed quality performances from many of his younger players, with Rodolfo Pizarro standing out and substitutes Carlos Rodriguez and Roberto Alvarado both doing whatever they could to end the game in 90 minutes.”The credit goes to everyone,” Ochoa said. “My teammates also took the kicks really well and at the end I was happy to save one and help the team.”Everyone does deserve some credit, but it was Ochoa who came through as an experienced player who made the difference like he’s done so many times before. Mexico can rest easy in the fact that if they need him to, he can do it again.last_img