PRE – The pressure on Mexico has been ramped up by that shock win by Colombia, with Leo Cuellar’s team needing to really get something out of this to stand a sliver of a chance of advancing. Considering France is likely to be hopping mad after that loss, Mexico probably needs three points here to stand a great chance of advancing. One wonders what England’s mentality will be after a brutally disappointing loss to France in the opener. They need to go more attacking against a lesser opponent and the look of things here seems to reflect that.
2’ – Mexico showing signs of offensive life early, as Robles takes off on a long run on the counter after an interception and has a shot blocked by Bassett. Robles flew down the pitch with the ball at her feet.
3’ – You can’t accuse Mexico of not knowing who to target defensively. Sierra goes in late to knock Kirby to the turf, earning England a free kick near midfield. Bronze has to chase down the errant delivery, but not much comes of it on the whole.
8’ – Mexico win a corner on the far side, and it eventually comes out to Veronica Perez at the edge of the area. She tries a leaping volley but puts it onto the roof of the net.
9’ – Jill Scott clanks a touch in her own end, letting Mayor swoop in. Corral gets doubled up after a throw-in, with Kirby coming all the way back to help clear the danger.
14’ – Mexico are showing definite signs of life on offense early. A free kick into the box has Bardsley briefly caught in two minds, but she gets back to her line in time before any real damage is done. The ball ends up at the edge of the area, where some slack marking allows Corral to hit an awkward half-volley well off-target.
14’ – Jill Scott’s having a nightmare early on, as she has another square ball picked off, with Rangel taking off and passing off to Cuellar. Cuellar wastes the move by launching a ridiculous shot from range that goes a mile wide of the post. She’s not helping her cause here.
18’ – Ocampo sends a tricky half-volley that forces Bardsley to stand on her goalline, leap and catch. Mexico the much brighter side in the early part of this one.
19’ – As I say that, of course, Aluko latches onto a long ball and goes off on a run at the far sideline, using a burst to escape from Ruiz and Robles long enough to deliver a shot or a cross to the near post. Santiago claims with no problem.
19’ – It’s Mexico’s turn to play some shaky defense, as Veronica Perez coughs it up in her own end, letting Jade Moore steal in and try to set up Aluko, though Ruiz shields her off to get the goal kick.
22’ – Great move by England. Bronze flicks over Sierra and outmuscles the defender before passing to Scott in the area. She shuttles to a wide open Fran Kirby, but her shot is tame and easily handled by Santiago.
26’ – Corral puts a shot high after teasing Houghton on the left edge of the box. Mexico really needs her to step up if they’re to win.
30’ – Aluko crosses into the box, where Kirby and Jill Scott both whiff comically. Duggan barely makes contact with a bicycle kick attempt, and Mexico clear, though not before the ball appeared to hit Robles’ hand in the box. Aluko gets it back a little later and passes off to Kirby who whips a shot right into Santiago’s chest.
33’ – Duggan lets loose with a dipping shot from outside of the area, but Santiago goes down to claim. Momentum has seemingly turned after Mexico enjoying the first quarter of an hour.
34’ – You can really see the confidence growing in the English attackers. Fara Williams sports Santiago off her line and tries to chip Santiago from about forty yards and nearly makes it happen, with the ball just skimming the top of the net.
42’ – Ocampo fouls Bronze on the near side in the final third, letting England swing in a potentially dangerous free kick. It’s cleared away with little difficulty.
44’ – Aluko’s been a terror for England thus far, getting wide on the left flank and cutting inside before ripping off a shot from the edge of the area that rises and drops onto the bar before going behind. Mexico having a major wobble before the end of the half.
HT – It’s not exactly been a thriller. Mexico showed some promise early but faded noticeably after the first quarter of an hour as England began to get a foothold on the match. For their part though, the European side have shown little quality in the area despite carving out a handful of chances for themselves. Eniola Aluko has perhaps looked most dangerous for the English, but Santiago hasn’t been forced into anything more than rudimentary saves. Both sides know they need much more to lock up the three points coming out of this one.
46’ – SUB – Mexico bring on Valeria Miranda on at the half for center-back Bianca Sierra, who hasn’t been particularly impressive on the day.
46’ – Kirby tries a very optimistic hit from about thirty yards out that looks to be going wide. For some reason, Santiago dives to smother, but she pulls it off.
47’ – Bardsley almost has egg on her face after an unbelievable cock up. She tries a low, hard clearance off a backpass but drills it right off one of her defenders. Cuellar’s there to pounce, but Bardsley slides and kicks it into touch off her shot.
52’ – SUB – Rafferty had come up a bit gimpy earlier, and she comes off for Alex Greenwood, as England make their first change.
54’ – Williams dribbles through a phone booth at the top of the area and takes a shot. It’s tame but still hits a Mexican player on the way behind, giving England a corner.
55’ – Corral laces a shot over the frame. That’s about as good as it’s gotten for Mexico offensively for a while.
59’ – Scott sends a ball through to Aluko who picks up and gets close to the endline before shooting at Santiago from a sharp angle. The keeper saves and holds well.
59’ – Greenwood makes an instant impact, as she goes off on a brilliant run down the left, receiving a nice ball and crossing first-time to Aluko who has to chase it down and spin a bit before firing at Santiago near post. The Mexican keeper just gets down to stop it. The corner comes to nothing.
63’ – Greenwood puts a cross behind for a corner despite not being under tremendous pressure. They play short, but a secondary cross sees the flag up for offside. A waste.
64’ – YELLOW CARD – Mexico (Garciamendez) – The Mexican center-back cleans Bronze out with a sliding tackle that’s well late of the ball.
64’ – When you’re lucky…Greenwood whips in the England free kick, and it looks like Santiago is lost at sea trying to get there, but she’s somehow perfectly positioned to catch Houghton’s soft header.
66’ – Speaking of luck, England get the rub of the green, as Ocampo drops a corner kick directly onto the bar! Garciamendez is then guilty of an astonishing miss from six yards at the far post, as she volleys the dropping ball over the goal. A real let off for England.
66’ – SUB – England take off Jill Scott in favor of Karen Carney. They’re trying to get a foothold back in this one after that close shave.
68’ – Mexico keeps conceding dangerous free kick opportunities in their end, and it’s going to cost them sooner or later. Another free kick, this time from the near sideline, sees Williams curves one towards the near post that flies just wide.
69’ – As I type that, England gets ANOTHER free kick chance. Greenwood has a pretty good go, but it dips right to Santiago who claims confidently. Ocampo rushes up the other end on the counter, but her cross is right to Bardsley.
70’ – GOAL – England (Kirby) – It’s a pretty goal, but it’s also an unnecessary one from Mexico’s point of view. Miranda clangs a first touch of an interception right to Kirby, who flicks it around her before taking Garciamendez out with a nasty cutback. The far post is gaping, and Kirby passes it off the inside of that post to give England a 1-0 lead.
74’ – There’s danger of Mexico completely falling apart late here, as Duggan has a shot blocked, with Aluko sending a shot into orbit seconds later. There’s just little offense to be found at the moment for Mexico.
76’ – SUB – Mexico bring off Cuellar, who’s been incredibly wasteful throughout, for youngster Maria Sanchez, a late addition to the squad and a player at Idaho State. Pressure.
78’ – England go close to finishing this one off, as Kirby and Carney combine well. The former utilizes space to the max, dribbling centrally before passing wide to Carney. Carney crosses far post, but Kirby’s not getting to that in the air, and Mexico survive. Just.
80’ – Santiago probably saves her side’s World Cup hopes with a stunning save on Kirby. A long England diagonal ball finds Kirby with room to run before she cuts towards the edge of the area to shake a marker. Her shot looks to be swerving to the far post before Santiago pushes it away at full stretch.
81’ – Mexico look gassed, as England are finding more space and time to ping it around as the minutes tick down. Bronze and Carney interchange passes before passing to Kirby in the box. Kirby sends another Mexican defender sprawling with a cutback before trying to find Aluko at the edge of the six, but she scuffs her shot.
82’ – GOAL – England (Carney) – That’s probably curtains on Mexico’s World Cup. Duggan gets wide before finding Greenwood in miles of space at the edge of the box. Nobody bothers to close the full-back down, letting her curl a cross to the edge of the area. The marking from Miranda is shoddy to say the least, letting Karen Carney rise for an almost uncontested header, which she buries.
85’ – Robles lofts a cross that lands just on the top of the net. The setting sun did not make that easy for Bardsley.
85’ – SUB – Alex Scott comes on for Bronze, who had gone down in pain after that second England goal.
88’ – England cough it up to Perez deep in their end, and she and Mayor keep their feet, and the ball, moving on the edge of the area. Mayor eventually finds a window to shoot, but her effort is weak and rolls right to Bardsley.
89’ – SUB – Mexico brings in Fabiola Ibarra for Ocampo. Cuellar probably could’ve exhausted his subs a little bit sooner.
90’ + 1’ – GOAL – Mexico (Ibarra) – Glimmer of hope for Mexico through some dodgy goalkeeping. After Alex Scott’s shot is blocked for England, Mexico break the other way, with Ibarra hoofing a ball forward to Corral. She cuts inside and finds a lane to shoot at goal. Bardsley should save and smother, but she spills it, letting Ibarra steal in and finish to halve the deficit.
90’ + 2’ – YELLOW CARD – England (Carney) – Good, ol’ fashioned time wasting, as Carney kicks the ball into the stands right before a throw-in.
FT – Huge three points for England. They wobbled a little bit during the first quarter of an hour but were the better team after. The subs of Greenwood and Carney really changed the match for Sampson, and one wonders if the duo won’t be involved from the start against Colombia. There have to be a few questions over Bardsley in goal though, as the veteran had some shaky moments before dropping a clanger for Mexico’s goal. Leo Cuellar’s side are likely out after another disappointing result. In a sense, Miranda was culpable for both goals, with a bad giveaway and poor marking, showing Cuellar’s half-time sub blew up in his face. The attack just didn’t find a rhythm on the day, and it likely means an early flight home.