Mexico Defeats Japan to Win 2021 Olympic Men's Soccer Bronze Medal

Adam WellsAugust 6, 2021

Mexico's Johan Vasquez celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Japan in the men's bronze medal soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
AP Photo/Martin Mejia

Mexico's men's soccer team is back on the medal podium at the Olympics after a 3-1 victory over Japan in the bronze-medal match on Friday. 

The Mexico squad has wrapped up a fantastic two-week run in Tokyo to earn their first medal since 2012. They finished second in Group A, with their lone defeat in the round-robin stage coming against Japan on July 25. 

After taking Brazil to a shootout in the semifinals, the defending Olympic gold medalists ultimately prevailed over Mexico 4-1. 

With the opportunity to avenge their earlier defeat against the Japanese team, the Mexican squad took an early advantage on Francisco Cordova's penalty kick in the 13th minute. 

Johan Vasquez extended the lead for Mexico in the 22nd minute with a header off of Sebastian Cordova's beautifully placed free kick. 

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

It's early, but Mexico is off and running on their way to a BRONZE. 🥉<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/lFkXp4JiKZ">pic.twitter.com/lFkXp4JiKZ</a>

Coming out of the intermission, El Tri put the match away when Alexis Vega got the ball past Japanese goalie Kosei Tani for a 3-0 lead. 

Mexico's goalie Guillermo Ochoa had a busy day keeping out an aggressive Japan squad, but he more than held up his end of the bargain. 

Japan held the ball for 58 percent of the match, more than doubled Mexico's total shots and had a 6-4 edge in shots on target. 

FotMob @FotMob

🥉 Mexico land Olympic Bronze at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a> after beating the host nation in the 3rd/4th playoff final.<a href="https://twitter.com/ClubAmerica?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ClubAmerica</a>’s Francisco Cordova was the star performer, scoring the opening goal before setting up the other two in a 3-1 win. 👏 <a href="https://t.co/xl0MF8mLfe">pic.twitter.com/xl0MF8mLfe</a>

Despite the statistical edge, Japan's only goal came in the 78th minute from Kaoru Mitoma. 

This is a disappointing end to the tournament for Japan after a hot start. The host team had the second-best goal differential after group play (plus-six) and won its first four matches to reach the semifinal undefeated. 

Following a 1-0 loss to Spain in extra time, Japan's offense once again struggled to break through in the bronze-medal match on Friday. 

After a disappointing ninth-place finish at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Mexico rebounded this time around to earn its second Olympic medal in the past three Games.