20 Memorable Mexico World Cup Moments
Mexico have played in 14 World Cups and have hosted two—1970 and 1986. El Tri have gone through good and bad times, but they have always been a beacon of hope for the country.
From their first victory in the history of the tournament, to the most emotional goal, here are 20 moments that deserve to be immortalized.
Let’s take a look.
20. The Wave
One of Mexico's biggest legacies in world football can be seen today in the bleachers.
During the 1986 World Cup, the local fans popularized "La Ola" (the wave or Mexican wave). It's a form of entertainment that still stands and can be seen in many places around the globe
19. 1st Time Being Seeded
Mexico’s stellar performance in the 2005 Confederations Cup, where they finished fourth after overpowering Brazil in the group stage and nearly defeating Germany in the third-place match, gave them the honor to be one of the eight seeded teams for the 2006 World Cup.
El Tri played in Group D along with Portugal, Angola and Iran. A 1-1-1 record was enough to advance to the knockout stage, where they lost to Argentina in overtime.
This tournament was key in some Mexican footballers' careers as they left for Europe shortly after.
18. Group Leaders
Korea-Japan 2002 marked the first time Mexico qualified to reach the knockout stage as group leaders. El Tri faced Italy, Ecuador and Croatia in Group G.
In their debut they defeated The Blazers 1-0 with a goal by Cuauhtemoc Blanco. In the following game, Jared Borgetti and Gerardo Torrado led Mexico to a 2-1 victory over Ecuador.
In the last clash they faced the Azzurri. El Tri pushed the Europeans and controlled the score for 85 minutes, until Alessandro Del Piero put the ball away to tie the game.
However, Mexico was the only undefeated team of the group and faced the United States in the round of 16, where they lost 2-0.
17. Undefeated in Group Stage
In 1970 Mexico didn't lose any of their group-stage games. They tied with the Soviet Union (0-0), trashed El Salvador (4-0) and defeated Belgium (1-0).
El Tri not only had played in six World Cups before achieving this feat, they had also only won once in the tournament's history—Chile 1962.
Other editions in which the team has managed to qualify to the knockout stage undefeated are Mexico 1986 (2-1-0), France 1998 (1-2-0) and Korea-Japan 2002 (2-1-0).
16. Best Result
On June 7, 1970, Mexico defeated El Salvador in the second match of the group stage. The game was held at the Estadio Azteca in front of 103,000 fans.
Javier Valdivia opened the score in the last minute of the first half and then extended Mexico’s lead in the first minute of the second half.
Javier Fragoso defeated Raul Magana in the 58th minute, and Juan Ignacio Basaguren sealed the deal just seven minutes from the final whistle.
The 4-0 victory has been the best result for El Tri in a World Cup.
15. Best Performance
The only time Mexico have won more than twice in a World Cup was at the 1986 edition, which they hosted.
They defeated all their rivals in Group B, as well as Bulgaria in the round of 16 and lost to Germany in penalty kicks in the quarter-finals; in regular time the match ended in a scoreless draw.
El Tri finished the tournament in sixth place, which means they surpassed teams such as Italy, England and Spain.
14. 1st Penalty Ever
In Uruguay 1930, Mexico was awarded the first penalty in the history of the World Cup.
Manuel Rosas converted from 12 yards out after a handball from the Argentineans. It was the perfect redemption for Rosas, who six days earlier scored the first own goal of the competition against Chile.
Rosas was also the youngest footballer to put the ball away in a World Cup (the record was later surpassed by Pele), Mexico’s top scorer and first to score more than once in the tournament.
13. 1st Point
After appearing in three World Cups (Uruguay 1930, Brazil 1950 and Switzerland 1954), Mexico grabbed their first point in the tournament in 1958.
In the second match of Group 3, El Tri faced Wales. Mexico were losing at the 32nd-minute mark, with Wales having scored with a goal by Ivor Allchurch. It seemed like they would leave the pitch with their 10th defeat.
However, Jaime Belmonte managed to score the tier just one minute before full-time, securing Mexico’s first draw.
12. 1st Player Ever to Appear in 5 Consecutive World Cups
Antonio Carbajal became the first player ever to appear in five World Cups, which earned him the "Cinco Copas" nickname (five cups); Lothar Matthaus equaled the record in France 1998.
The Mexican goalkeeper played from Brazil 1950 to England 1966, for a total of 11 games.
He has been one of the most emblematic players in the country’s history. Locally, Carbajal had over 400 appearances with Club Espana and Leon.
11. 1st Goal
Mexico participated in the very first World Cup back in 1930. El Tri played against Argentina, Chile and France.
In their first match, which was also the inaugural game, they faced Les Blues. Although they lost 4-1, this game marked the first time Mexico put the ball away in a World Cup.
Juan Carreno was the author of the goal, and he did it in the 70th minute.
10. 1st Victory
After two consecutive defeats in Chile 1962, in front of Brazil and Spain, El Tri had nothing left to lose in the tournament.
In their last compromise, they faced Czechoslovakia, who were fighting with the "Selecao" for the first spot of Group 3.
Both teams were tied with four points, and the last matchday was decisive.
Vaclav Masek surprised Mexico in Czechoslovakia's first attack by leaving the defenders behind easily and bagging the first goal of the game.
However, El Tri fought hard and won the match with goals from Isidoro Diaz, Alfredo del Aguila and Hector Hernandez.
This was the first time Mexico notched three points in a World Cup.
9. Luis Hernandez's Scoring Record
During France 1998, "El Matador" became the first Mexican to score four times in the same World Cup.
He signed a brace in front of South Korea, then tied the game against the Netherlands, in injury time, and gave Mexico the momentary lead when they faced Germany in the round of 16.
Hernandez sits third in Mexico’s all-time scorers’ table with 35 (tied with Carlos Hermosillo and Javier Hernandez).
8. Jared Borgetti vs. Italy
Mexico had a great performance in the 2002 World Cup, and Jared Borgetti established himself as one of the most lethal Mexican strikers.
He had already proven to have a superb aerial game, and against Italy, he did not disappoint.
Borgetti turned his body in order to help the ball change its direction and surprise Gianluigi Buffon. He not only cracked the Azzurri’s tight defense, he also left Buffon with no chance.
7. Javier Hernandez vs. France
Chicharito became the second member of his family to score in a World Cup and against the same team.
His grandfather, Tomas Balcazar, represented Mexico in Switzerland 1954, where El Tri shared Group 1 with Brazil, Yugoslavia and France.
Balcazar scored the equalizer against Les Blues in the 85th minute; however, Raymond Kopa would give his side the victory with a penalty kick.
Fifty-six years later, in South Africa 2010, Hernandez also faced France. The Manchester United striker took advantage of his speed and gave Mexico the lead. El Tri won the match 2-0.
6. 1st-Time Host
Two years after hosting the 1968 Olympics, Mexico organized the World Cup.
Argentina was the other country in the bid. The voting took place in Tokyo, in 1964, and Mexico won with 56 votes against Argentina’s 32.
It was the first time the tournament took place in North America, and it was the one that saw Brazil’s third championship, the only squad that secured the Jules Rimet Trophy that many times.
Pele was awarded the Golden Ball, and Gerard Muller received the Golden Boot.
5. 1st Quarter-Finals
In the 1970 World Cup, Mexico went undefeated in the group stage for the first time ever.
A draw with the Soviet Union in their debut and two victories over El Salvador and Belgium in the following games were enough to secure them a place in the second phase.
El Tri qualified for the knockout stage in the second place of Group 1 and faced Italy in the quarter-finals.
The host lost 4-1 to the Europeans, who ultimately advanced to the final match.
4. 2nd-Time Host
After 12 editions no country had hosted the World Cup more than once. But in 1986, Mexico broke that tradition.
Originally, Colombia would have the honor, as it was stated in 1974, after presenting an unopposed bid. However, in 1982 the nation withdrew due to financial issues.
Another bid was launched immediately with Canada, Mexico and the United States interested in taking over; in May 1983 Mexico won unanimously.
Argentina defeated Germany in the final match to secure their second world championship.
3. Manuel Negrete vs. Bulgaria
Mexico faced Bulgaria in the round of 16 of the 1986 World Cup; it was the second time that they managed to advance to the knockout stage.
In the 34th minute, Manuel Negrete scored one of the most beautiful goals in World Cup history.
He received a high ball, and with a volley, he sent it to the back of the net. It would be his sole goal in the tournament, which earned him a commemorative plaque at the Estadio Azteca.
2. Cuauhtemoc Blanco vs. Belgium
In France 1998, Mexico was down in the scoring in their clash against Belgium. They knew they couldn't afford to lose because they had to face the Netherlands in the following match.
El Tri were all over the Europeans, but the defense was tight. It took a brilliant move from Blanco to cause damage to Filip De Wilde’s goal.
Ramon Ramirez ran through the left flank and put a cross to the second post that Blanco sent to the back of the net in style; ultimately the game finished in a tie with two goals each.
1. Luis Hernandez vs. Netherlands
Luis Hernandez's goal against the Netherlands might not be the most spectacular or technical, but it is one of the most emotional and important ones in Mexican football history.
"El Matador" had already scored twice against South Korea when Mexico faced the Oranje in the last match of the group stage.
If El Tri wanted to qualify to the round of 16 for the second time in a row, they couldn't lose.
It seemed like they were going to pack their bags and leave the tournament when Hernandez took advantage of a defensive mistake and scored the equalizer.
He also became the first Mexican to score more than twice in the same World Cup.