Game in a sentence

In their first ever Olympic final Mexico stun the greatest football nation on the planet as Brazil are once again prevented from claiming their first ever Gold medal.

Observations

  • Two goals – one in each half – by Oribe Peralta were enough to guide Mexico to a Gold medal in front of a sell out 86,162 crowd at Wembley, leaving Brazil coach Mano Menezes frustrated and fearful for his job.
  • The nightmare for Menezes started early as Mexico took the lead on 28 seconds as star striker Peralta scored with his first touch after an error by Brazilian right back Rafael. It was the fastest ever goal scored in an Olympic final.
  • Some of the crowd had barely found their seats when Mexico kicked off, played it between themselves at the back before kicking the ball long towards the Manchester United player on the right side of Brazil’s backline. Unfortunately for Brazil, Rafael took too many touches on the ball and then played a poor pass inside to a surprised Sandro who lost out to Javier Aquino. Seconds later, Aquino found Peralta who buried a shot from 20 yards inside Gabriel in the Mexico goal. It was a stunning start as only one Brazilian player had touched the ball before they were a goal down.
  • For those wondering, yes Roberto Di Matteo did it in an FA Cup final at Wembley after 42 seconds, Louis Saha did it at the famous stadium in the 2009 FA Cup final after 25 seconds but the fastest goal at Wembley actually came in the 2010 FA Vase final when Paul Chow scored after 21 seconds for Whitley Bay.
  • The goal could have ignited Brazil but for the best part of the first half they were far too hesitant, lacked any kind of clever movement and pace with the ball. Their star individual players such as Neymar and Oscar weren’t given any space due to Mexico’s clever pressing and suddenly Mano Menezes’s side looked a bunch of individuals rather than the cohesive, talented side that scored 15 goals in their first five games of the tournament.
  • Menezes reacted to this by bringing on Hulk for the invisible Alex Sandro after just 31 minutes and the Porto man brought them a much needed injection of pace and directness.
  • Led by Hulk and an improved Neymar, Brazil were by far the better side to start the second half but Mexico were resilient led by their commanding goalkeeper Jose Corona and their fantastic centre back Diego Reyes.
  • Personally, I was absolutely delighted to see Reyes have a standout tournament during these Olympics. While commentating on last year’s Copa America here at theScore, Reyes caught my eye during his time for Mexico, often playing in central midfield, but it is clear he is better at the heart of the defence where he is commanding in the air, supremely comfortable on the ball and an outstanding reader of the game. At 19, he has the potential to be one of the world’s best defenders one day and I’m sure numerous European clubs will now be calling his agent.
  • Reyes was not the only Mexican who deserved to be highlighted. Peralta, one of their three overage players, restored his manager’s faith with the goals and will get the headlines, but this Mexican side were a team in every aspect during the 90 minutes at Wembley. Luis Fernando Tena has kept the majority of these players together from the Copa America to the Toulon tournament and into the Olympics and that cohesion helped his side get the gold medal.
  • Veteran Carlos Salcido was excellent inside a midfield trio with Hector Herrera and Jorge Enriquez while forward Marco Fabian’s pace terrified Brazil’s defence and the Guadalajara man came close twice in the second half to scoring himself.
  • However, Peralta was to be the man who made it 2-0 when a controversial free kick was awarded and while Brazil argued and were distracted, the Santos Laguna forward rose above all of them and scored the winning goal. On a day when Mexico’s top scorer, Giovani Dos Santos, was injured, Peralta rose to the occasion when his team needed him the most.
  • All credit to Mexico but one would expect the fall out in Brazil from this loss to be just as big a story. Questions across that nation will be asked. Why did Menezes wait as long as he did to withdraw one of his pedestrian midfielders, Sandro and Romulu? Why didn’t he start Hulk or Lucas Moura? Why did he play Ganso for less than an hour combined at these Games? Why was the defence so poor?
  • They showed some quality near the end as Hulk scored in injury time and actually should have equalised as Oscar missed a free header in the last second but it was too little too late for the favourites.
  • Brazil do not need to qualify for the World Cup that they host in two years and this was supposed to be their biggest test between now and 2014. A silver medal would be an achievement for some but not Brazil. Ultimately they have failed this test and subsequently Menezes will likely be fired.
  • It is astonishing that they have now won a medal in the Olympics five times in the last eight attempts but the men in gold have still never put a gold medal around their necks.
  • Instead that honour goes to Mexico. Those of us living in a CONCACAF nation have known about their quality for some time but now the world is aware as well. Winners of the Under 17 World Cup, third place at the Under 20 World Cup and winners of the Olympics, this is a team on the rise very quickly. Take note folks, the Mexicans are a super power coming to the senior game very soon.

Three Stars

  1. Oribe Peralta
  2. Diego Reyes
  3. Marco Fabian

Kristian Jack