Mexico never looked in danger of letting bronze slip through their grasp with a commanding 3-1 win over Japan at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020. It is the second time El Tri has collected an Olympic medal after their gold in 2012.
Mexico 3-1 Japan Saitama Stadium
It did not take long for Mexico to set the tone for the match as a dynamic run from Alexis Vega allowed the winger to slip past his defender and break into the penalty box, where he was promptly brought down by Ao Tanaka. Sebastian Cordova seized the opportunity, sending Japan goalkeeper Kosei Tani the wrong way before slotting his spot-kick into the bottom left-hand corner. A few minutes later Cordova sent a free-kick towards the undefended near post, where Johan Vasquez was on hand to fire home a header and give his side a 2-0 lead.
Although Japan then began to link up well in and around the penalty area, they were unable to reduce the deficit before half-time.
The Samurai Blue looked slightly more dangerous after the break, with Ritsu Doan sending a header just over the bar. Twenty-four-year-old Cordova then cemented his status as the game’s standout player when his well-placed corner was turned into the back of the net by a wonderful header from Vega to put Mexico 3-0 up. Uriel Antuna and Henry Martin then missed more good opportunities for El Tri a few minutes later. With about 15 minutes to go, substitute Kaoru Mitoma netted a consolation goal for the hosts, who squandered several other chances before the final whistle went.
The Mexicans‘ two-headed goals were as simple as they were beautiful, with both taken quickly and accurately to give Japan goalkeeper Tani no chance. Yet the more impressive of the two came from Vega, who seemed to float in the air for a moment as he met Cordova’s inch-perfect corner and powered the ball home from around 12 metres out.
Although Cordova has already made a name for himself as a provider and scorer of goals in both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments of Mexico’s top flight, he was virtually unplayable in Saitama this evening. The set-piece specialist completed his own personal Olympic triathlon in the space of an hour, first scoring a penalty before assisting two further goals from a free kick and a corner.
If Japan spent too much time moving the ball around the Mexican goal and not enough time attempting to score before half-time, the second half was a different story. Although the hosts began taking shots from every angle after the break, this did not prove particularly efficient, with only five efforts on target from their 19 attempts.