Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mexico 2-1 Russia: Zhirkov sees red as El Tri progress

Gill Clark in Editorial 24 Jun 2017


Mexico celebrate another Confederations Cup win

Mexico progressed to the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup with a 2-1 win over hosts Russia, who saw Yurki Zhirkov sent off in the second half as they were eliminated from the tournament.

El Tri made seven changes from the side that beat New Zealand in rather feisty circumstances last time out, notably bringing Hector Moreno, Hector Herrera, Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez back into the starting line-up.

The hosts, meanwhile, made just two changes starting with Roman Shishkin and Dmitri Kombarov in place of Aleksandr Erokhin and Aleksandr Bukharov, and they got off to a bright start.

Early penalty appeal waved away

Indeed Russia thought they had won a penalty in the early minutes, Zhirkov going down under a challenge from Moreno, only for the referee to wave away the protests and play on.

Zhirkov was then booked for a high boot on Vela before firing a low shot just wide of Guillermo Ochoa, with the wing-back heavily involved in the opening exchanges.

Russia then had another penalty claim dismissed after Smolov was barged over in the box. The referee eventually opted to consult the VAR, before awarding a drop ball, a decision which clearly unimpressed the Russian.

Smolov almost made amends, his shot from the edge of the post hitting the post, but a minute later Russia finally did open the scoring.

Russia take the lead

Some good work from Aleksandr Golovin down the left saw the ball crossed in and, although Alexandr Erokhin scuffed his effort, he did manage to pick out Alexandr Samedov who side-footed home.

However, the lead lasted just five minutes, with Mexico levelling the game up on the half-hour mark through Nestor Araujo.

A great long ball from Herrera found Araujo who headed over Igor Akinfeev and into the back of the net.

The second half began in frantic style with Samedov scoring with a delightful chip which was swiftly, and correctly, ruled out for offside.

Mexico ahead and Russian down to 10

Four minutes later, and Russia’s disappointment was compounded as Mexico went ahead for the first time, after an awful error from Akinfeev.

The goalkeeper came flying out to intercept a hopeful punt upfield, only to mistime it dreadfully and allow Lozano to head from the edge of the box.

Mexico then thought they had extended their lead after Moreno side-footed home, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside via the VAR.

However, it was only a temporary reprieve for Russia who were then reduced to 10 men after Zhirkov was sent off with just over 20 minutes to go, after an elbow on Layun.

Within a minute it was almost 3-1, Hernandez racing down the left before whipping in a low cross for Reyes who stuck out a foot but could not quite get on the end of it.

Russia pressed as the game wore on, substitute Igor Smolnikov firing just over the bar on the volley but they could not find an equaliser and it is Mexico, who have now gone behind in all of their games in the tournament, who are into the semi-finals.

Mexico: Ochoa 7; Araujo 8, Diego Reyes 7, Moreno 7, Layun 6; Jonathan dos Santos 6, Herrera 7, Guardado 7 (Alanis); Vela 5 (Aquino 6), Hernandez 6, Lozano 7.

Unused subs: Cota, Marquez, Fabian, Jimenez, Giovani dos Santos, Talavera, Damm, Peralta, Luis Reyes

Russia: Akinfeev 3; Vasin 6, Dzhikiya 6, Kudryashov 6; Samedov 6.5, Erokhin 5 (Smolnikov 6), Glushakov 6, Zhirkov 3; Golovin 5, Smolov 7 (Kanunnikov); Bukharov 5 (Poloz 6).

Unused subs: Shishkin, Gazinskiy, Kambolov, Gabulov, Kutepov, Miranchuk, Marinato, Tarasov, Kombarov.

Referee: Fahad Al Mirdasi



Gill Clark

Gill is a freelance football writer who has spent many years working for Goal, writing and editing news, previews, match reports, ratings, live blogs and just about anything else she can get her hands on.

She now contributes to a variety of online publications, including Soccernews, predominantly covering the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.



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