Mexico Advance to 2019 Toulon Tournament Semi-Final with Win vs. China PR

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

Mexico midfielder Erick Aguirre (16) plays against the United States during an international friendly match Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Mexico reached the semi-final of the 2019 Tournoi Maurice Revello after a 1-0 win over China PR in France on Sunday. A goal from midfielder Paolo Yrizar helped El Tri see off head coach Guus Hiddink's defensive team and advance from Group C. 

The result means Mexico now join Ireland, who beat Bahrain earlier in the day, in the last four at the Toulon event along with Brazil and Japan.

Mexico did most of the running and created the better chances during the first half. Ian Torres went close, while Yrizar saw an attempt from close range blocked.

Erick Aguirre and Joaquin Esquivel were pulling the strings creatively for El Tri. The latter's long passes into the channels were finding the raiding runs of enterprising full-back Alan Mozo.

While the 22-year-old couldn't find the right final ball, his pace and energy on the overlap continued to cause China a host of problems.

Despite dominating proceedings, Mexico still needed goalkeeper Jose Hernandez to produce a superb stop after 26 minutes to deny Chen Binbin.

The half may have ended goalless, but there was no shortage of entertainment for onlookers:

Zach Lowy @ZachLowy

After a dull opening match, it’s been end-to-end stuff between China and Mexico. Both competing for a place in the semifinals, but they both need a win to see them through.

It took nearly 15 minutes after the restart for Mexico's breakthrough to come. A flowing, one- and two-touch move ended with Yrizar getting the final touch to nudge the ball over the line.


🇲🇽 Mexico take the lead! Paolo Yrizar puts @miseleccionmx up 1-0 and on the verge of reaching the @TournoiMRevello semifinals. #TMR2019 #MEXCHN https://t.co/t6qNEw3Oif

Mexico should have been two up moments later when Mozo broke clear once again. However (and not for the first time), his cross couldn't find a free man.

El Tri were posing a considerable threat on the break, with Francisco Cordova taking control of midfield and splitting the China defence with several through passes. Yrizar was often on the end of those passes, but his timing was off, prompting use of the linesman's offside flag.

China's response was to rarely deviate from the rigid defensive shape installed by Hiddink, but a rare foray forward from Lei Wenjie should have yielded a goal nine minutes from time.

Ultimately though, Hiddink's players hadn't shown enough endeavour to merit making it through to the next phase.