U17 : Mexico close in on knockout stages
Australia and Mexico played out a tense goalless draw in Chillan, which sees the Mexicans close in on a knockout berth but does the Joeys little good in their task to reach the Round of 16.
Eduardo Aguirre had the standout opportunity of the opening period. After Jose Gurrola found the No9 inside the penalty area on the Mexican right, Aguirre’s fierce drive crashed off Duro Dragicevic’s left-hand post and wide.
The first half also saw something of a goalmouth scramble, with Mexico failing to take a number of opportunities in front of the Australian goal. Dragicevic blocked a Pablo Lopez shot, with Aguirre failing to connect with his follow-up shot, a flurry of shots and blocks followed before the Joeys hacked the ball clear.
Into the second period, Australia began to get more control of the ball, creating a few more opportunities of their own. Lucas Derrick headed a corner back across the box, with Kye Rowles’s close range header kept out superbly by Abraham Romero in the Mexican goal.
Mexico were indebted to Romero in the closing stages of the game, as the LA Galaxy stopper pulled off a wonderful diving save to deny substitute Panos Armenakas, whose curled free-kick looked destined for the back of the net.
Neither side could make the breakthrough though and the Aussies go into their final Group C match against Argentina realistically needing a result to progress, while Mexico, now on four points and looking comfortable, face a final showdown against Germany.
“It was a tough match against a team that defended really well. We were unlucky in the first half, when we had good chances. If we had converted one, the result would had been very different, but Australia knew our style of play and how to stop us. In the end, it’s a fair result, and it’s not bad because we have one more point,” Mario Arteaga, Mexico coach.