Posted on August 7, 2012
By Michael Lewis
LONDON — Mexico is only one win away from an Olympic soccer gold medal.
El Tri reached the Olympic men’s gold medal match for the first time by defeating Japan, on Oribe Perlata’s 65th minute goal that broke a 1-1 deadlock and sent Mexico to a 3-1 victory on Tuesday.
Javier Cortes, who had just entered the game only minutes prior, went through three players to add an insurance goal three minutes into stoppage time.
The Mexicans accomplished that feat despite playing without its best player, playmaker Giovani dos Santos, in the second half before 82,371 spectators at Wembley Stadium. Dos Santos was replaced by Raul Jimenez at halftime.
They will meet the winner of the Brazil-South Korea semifinal, also played on Tuesday, in Saturday’s final at Wembley on Saturday.
Mexico has never won an Olympic medal, although it came close in 1968 when Japan defeated El Tri in the bronze-medal match at the Mexico City Summer Games.
On Tuesday, the roles and result were reversed in the semfinals.
Despite that, Mexico found the room to score the game-winner and an insurance goal.
Only seconds after Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda made a save, midfielder Javier Aquino stripped Takahiro Ohgihara of the ball and quickly passed to Oribe, who launched a drive from atop the penlaty area that he deposited into the upper left corner.
The Japanese grabbed the lead in the 12th minute as forward Yuki Otsu fired a 22-yard bullet from the left side past goalkeeper Jose Corona and into the upper right corner. It was Oksu’s third goal of the tournament.
The Mexicans squandered a decent opportunity in the 28th minute when dos Santos sent a drive wide right of the net.
But only three minutes later, El Tri equalized off a dos Santos corner kick. The Tottenham Hotspur player sent a ball into a scrum of players in front of the net. The ball went of the head of Kensuke Nagai and right to Marco Fabian, who headed it past Gonda for the first goal Japan had allowed in this competition.
Fabian’s first goal of the tournament broke Japan’s scoreless streak at 391 minutes.
Photo: Oribe Peralta (right) broke a 1-1 tie midway through the second half. Scott Bales/YCJ
Categories: Mexico, North America, Olympic Qualifying