Final, 1-0: It’s over at Gillette Stadium. Portugal wins thanks to Alves’ late heroics.
The game looked like it was heading for a goalless draw when Alves rose and headed Portugal to victory. The result will please Portugal, but its performance left something to be desired. Without Ronaldo, Portugal lacked dynamism and a killer instinct in the final third. It also had loose moments in defense, and its defenders showed too much aggression in the second half. We’ll see more of Bento as his team on Tuesday when it takes on Ireland in its last game before the World Cup.
Mexico will head to Brazil having suffered consecutive defeats. The silver lining for Mexico is that it lost two tight games to quality opposition. While Mexico lost, it can gain confidence from its performance against Portugal. “El Tri” demonstrated good depth in goal and the attack, while its defense was creaky but resilient … right up until it wasn’t.
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90th minute +2, 1-0 Portugal: Alves heads home what looks like a certain game-winning goal.
It came from Moutinho’s free kick. The Portugal midfielder drove a dead ball into the Mexico area, and Alves beat Ochoa with a powerful header to the near post.
89th minute, 0-0: Eduardo saves Portugal from a harsh defeat with a late-game save.
Hernandez created the danger once again by receiving a pass on the break and laying it off to a streaking Pulido. Eduardo raced off his line, cut down the angle and blocked Pulido’s shot some 15 yards away from the goal.
85th minute, 0-0: Aquino replaces Herrera in Mexico’s midfield.
82nd minute, 0-0: The game is a losing zest in the second half, as fatigue and the substitutions reduce players’ sharpness and familiarity.
It has, however, taken a physical turn. Tackles are tougher than they were in the early stages, and the referee is working hard to keep tempers from boiling over.
79th minute, 0-0: Neto levels Fabian with a high kick, and the referee shows him a yellow card for a dangerous play.
77th minute, 0-0: Mexico makes a double substitution. Guardado and Peralta depart. Fabian and Pulido enter the fray.
74th minute, 0-0: Pereira is shown a yellow card for a foul on the edge of Portugal’s penalty area.
73rd minute, 0-0: Varela heads a shot on goal, but it goes straight to Ochoa, who collects it with ease.
68th minute, 0-0: Herrera tests Eduardo again, but the Portugal goalkeeper shows that he’s up to the task by making another good save.
67th minute, 0-0: Tonight’s attendance at Gillette Stadium: 56, 292. A very good turnout indeed.
64th minute, 0-0: Portugal makes its second substitution, replacing Eder with Postiga in a striker-for-striker swap.
63rd minute, 0-0: Moutinho is down on the field after he collided with Herrera.
61st minute, 0-0: Hernandez makes an instant impact.
The Mexico striker passed to Herrera, who burst forward from the midfield, arrived at the far post and shot. Eduardo kept the score level with a fine save.
58th minute, 0-0: Both teams make changes. Hernandez replaces Dos Santos up front for Mexico, while Varela is coming on for Vieirinha.
55th minute, 0-0: Guardado shoots from 25 yards out and, once again, it goes wide but not by much.
52nd minute, 0-0: Alves is cautioned.
50th minute, 0-0: Coentrao again is involved in the attacking action.
The Portugal fullback shot from eight yards out, but Ochoa made the save at the near post.
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48th minute, 0-0: Mexico goes on the attack early in the second half.
Aguilar shot from an impossibly tight angle, but Eduardo saved it, and a defender immediately cleared the danger.
46th minute, 0-0: Herrera changed Mexico’s goalkeeper at halftime, replacing the impressive Corona with Ochoa.
Herrera hasn’t decided which goalkeeper will start at the World Cup, so it’s now or never for Ochoa to stake his claim
The second half now is underway.
Halftime, 0-0: The first half comes to a close with neither team having broken the deadlock.
It has been an open and entertaining affair so far. Neither team managed to score, but both created a number of promising scoring opportunities. While Mexico had the advantage in possession and territory, Portugal had the better scoring chances.
Mexico’s deliberate attacking approach allowed Portugal to sit in a defensive shell and repel its advances. Mexico must improve its play in the wide areas. If the fullbacks push even further forward, and the ball comes to them, it would stretch Portugal’s defense and create openings in the final third of the field. It’s either that or keep shooting from distance.
Meanwhile, Portugal is using its athleticism to great effect. Mexico’s high defensive line allows Portugal to break forward with speed. If Portugal was sharper with its final pass or shot, it would have a deserved lead. Head coach Bento might want to see his team be better in possession, but he won’t have many other complaints.
45th minute, 0-0: Aguilar is cautioned for a seemingly benign tackle from behind (if such a thing exists) on Vieirinha.
43rd minute, 0-0: It’s an see-saw ending to the first half, as Mexico nearly opens the scoring.
Guardado collected Alves’ mis-hit clearance, and the Mexico winger shot first-time. Guardado’s effort was wide of the goal — but not by much.
39th minute, 0-0: Eder has another scoring chance, but his glancing header goes wide.
38th minute, 0-0: Portugal comes close once again after a fantasy play just outside the Mexico area.
Vieirinha passed to Eder with a back-heel volley, and Eder flicked the ball into the air, turned on a swivel and shot wide from 18 yards out.
30th minute, 0-0: Mexico is determined to play the role of protagonists.
Its defenders push their line forward, while the midfielders and attackers pressure Portugal in the middle third of the field. It’s working well so far, as Portugal hasn’t established a tempo to its game.
The flip side of Herrera’s strategy is that it leaves space into which an athletic Portugal team can launch quick counter-attacks. Would Mexico take the same approach if Ronaldo was available? We’ll never know.
22nd minute, 0-0: Eder threatens again, and Corona comes to Mexico’s rescue.
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Nani and Coentrao combined in the midfield, before Coentrao slotted a pass forward to Eder, who shot from close range. Corona dove to his left and palmed the shot away.
19th minute, 0-0: Eder heads over the bar, as Portugal threatens once again.
Almieida crossed from the wing, and Eder out-jumped Moreno but failed to direct his header on goal.
14th minute, 0-0: Portugal has its first real scoring chance of the game.
Vieirinha beat Guardado with a stepover on the edge of Mexico’s area, cut inside and shot with his left foot. Corona made the save and pushed it out for a corner kick.
Eighth minute, 0-0: Mexico is enjoying the better start. Portugal seems content to defend in its own third of the field, while Mexico controls possession.
Third minute, 0-0: Moreno thought he had scored an early goal for Mexico but the referee disallows the goal because he was offside.
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First minute, 0-0: We’re under way at Gillette Stadium.
Pregame: There’s a healthy and energetic crowd at Gillette Stadium, as kickoff approaches.
Mexico fans will be anxious to see how El Tri rebounds from Tuesday’s hard-fought loss against Bosnia. Head coach Miguel Herrera is sticking with the familiar 5-3-2 alignment, hoping his players raise their game against Portugal.
It won’t be easy. Portugal’s Veloso and Moutinho can control the game from the center of the midfield against any opponent, while Nani will be a threat from all over the field.
Mexico’s Aguilar and Guardado will be busy. Portugal fullbacks Coentrao and Pereira like to join the attack, and the wingers tuck inside. Mexico has enough defenders to contain Portugal, but communication will be key to neutralizing all the moving parts.
8 p.m.: Here are the lineups
Jesus Corona (1), goalkeeper
Paul Aguilar (22), right wing-back
Francisco Rodriguez (4), center back
Hector Moreno (15), center back
Miguel Layun (7), center back
Andres Guardado (18), left wing-back
Hector Herrera (6), midfielder
Jose Juan Vazquez (23), midfielder
Giovani Dos Santos (10), forward
Oribe Peralta (19), forward
Guillermo Ochoa (13), goalkeeper
Alfredo Talavera (12), goalkeeper
Carlos Salcido (3), defender
Diego Reyes (5), defender
Miguel Ponce (16), defender
Marco Fabian (8), midfielder
Isaac Brizuela (17), midfielder
Javier Aquino (20), midfielder
Carlos Pena (21), midfielder
Raul Jimenez (9), forward
Alan Pulido (11), forward
Eduardo (1), goalkeeper
Fabio Coentrao (5), left back
Bruno Alves (2), center back
Neto (14), center back
Joao Pereira (21), right back
Miguel Veloso (4), midfielder
Joao Moutinho (8), midfielder
Nani (17), midfielder
Andre Almeida (19), midfielder
Vieirinha (10), midfielder
Eder (11), forward
Rui Patricio (12), goalkeeper
Ricardo Costa (13), defender
William Carvalho (6), midfielder
Ruben Amorim (20), midfielder
Rafa (15), forward
Varela (18), forward
Helder Postiga (23), striker
4:30 p.m. ET: If there’s ever a time when an exhibition game isn’t a mere exercise, it’s now.
Gillette Stadium hosts Mexico-Portugal on Friday night in a high-profile game, which takes place less than a week before the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The national teams are making their final preparations for the tournament, and Friday’s game gives them a chance to show their progress — to the delight of local soccer fans.
Mexico lost 1-0 against Bosnia on Tuesday, and “El Tri’s” is hoping to build confidence and rhythm in its final game before it departs for Brazil.
Portugal will be without captain and superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo and defender Pepe when it faces Mexico. Head coach Paulo Bento will be keen to see which players can lead his team in the absence of those two stars.
The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. Join us right here for all the action from Gillette Stadium.
Photo via Twitter/@iFiFa2014