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Soccer Fans React in Disbelief as Mexico Exits 2022 World Cup on Goal Differential

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2022

Mexico's Hector Moreno and goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera react at the end of the World Cup group C soccer match between Saudi Arabia and Mexico, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Mexico won 2-1 but failed to advance in the tournament. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan

Mexico had advanced to seven consecutive knockout stages at the World Cup coming into the 2022 edition of soccer's premier event. On Wednesday, goal differential kept them from making it eight.

Mexico beat Saudi Arabia 2-1, finishing with four points in Group C play. And while Poland lost to Argentina 2-0, leveling them with Mexico in points, it was Poland's even goal differential that gave them the slimmest of margins to advance over El Tri (minus-1 on goal differential).

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

THERE'S ONE FOR MEXICO ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ <a href="https://t.co/gWHEW5XdLb">pic.twitter.com/gWHEW5XdLb</a>

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

TWO FOR MEXICO ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ๐Ÿ˜ฑ<br><br>As it stands, Mexico only needs one more goal to advance!!! <a href="https://t.co/fRnhYJgOXC">pic.twitter.com/fRnhYJgOXC</a>

Argentina won the group on six points.

The drama in the waning moments was intense. Into stoppage time, Mexico held a 2-0 lead and Poland lost 2-0, and both teams were even at that moment in goal differential, overall goals scored and the head-to-head matchup (the teams played to a scoreless draw).

That meant the next tiebreaker was fair play, and Poland were set to advance because of receiving one less yellow card than Mexico in the group stage.

The tiebreaker situation changed somewhat when Salem Aldawsari scored in stoppage time for Saudi Arabia, giving Poland the goal differential advantage.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

SAUDI ARABIA SCORES ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ <a href="https://t.co/XiNbSdbC4f">pic.twitter.com/XiNbSdbC4f</a>

The calculus didn't change for Mexico, as a third goal would have even goal differential again, given them the edge in total goals and sent them to the knockout phase.

But it wasn't to be, leaving fans shocked by the sheer drama of Mexico's heartbreaking World Cup exit:

Ben Jacobs @JacobsBen

Poland sneak through alongside group winners Argentina on a pulsating, dramatic and exhausting night that sees narrowly Mexico bow out. And we almost had lots drawn. <br><br>I think most of us feel like Messi ๐Ÿ‘‡ right now... ๐Ÿ˜… <a href="https://t.co/KNiGXNENPJ">pic.twitter.com/KNiGXNENPJ</a>

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

Mexico is out of the World Cup, w/Poland edging them for 2nd place in their group on goal difference despite Mexico's 2-1 win vs. Saudi Arabia.<br><br>Tata Martino will shoulder the blame for his puzzling lineup decisions vs. Argentina, though El Tri's flaws aren't all on him

Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta

Mexico is eliminated. A brutal 2 years of soccer for Mexico<br>- Lost Gold Cup<br>- Lost Nations League<br>- Failed to qualify for the U-20 WC<br>- Failed to qualify for 2024 Olympics<br>- Seattle defeats two Liga MX teams en route to CCL title<br>- Run of 6-WC run of reaching the knockouts ends

Maximiliano Bretos @MaxBretosSports

Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ excellent today, but you can't wait until 3rd game to do that.

Julie Stewart-Binks @JSB_TV

Before the World Cup, Tata Martino called himself "Public enemy #1" in Mexico, and I'm gonna go ahead and agree with him <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MEX?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MEX</a>

Umir @umirf1

Thought Poland were the worst of the four sides on performances in that group which makes Mexico and Saudi Arabia's elimination a bit more annoying but what a group, what a set of fixtures.

Ibrahim H. @KingOfQueenz

What a crazy ending for Mexico. This gotta hurt.

Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22

Brilliant night of football. Argentine were very good against a poor Poland side. Treat to watch Messi's beautiful cameo. Poland fans here at Stadium 974 crying tears of happiness after news that they sneaked through ahead of Mexico into the second round.

Nico Cantor @Nicocantor1

ALL OF POLAND HUDDLED AROUND A PHONE WATCHING MEXICO-SAUDI ARABIA.<br><br>A couple of fist pumps from the Polish after Saudi Arabiaโ€™s goal back. But the situation for Mexico was the same: a goal and they were in. <br><br>JIMร‰NEZ had that last chance with the keeper. DEVASTATING FOR EL TRI.

For neutral fans, this was an incredible spectacle to watch unfold. Would Mexico or Argentina get that third goal to see El Tri through? Would Poland get one more yellow card to send the tiebreakers to a random draw?

The tension was palpable.

But for Mexico, it's an unmitigated disaster, and one that might close the Tata Martino era. The Mexican manager reportedly will not renew his contract with the team, according to Mediotiempo (h/t Marca), which would make this match his last for El Tri.

But outside of Mexico, Wednesday's drama was great fun, and a reminder of why the World Cup is truly one of a kind.