Mexico MEX
3
Francisco Córdova 12' (p), Johan Vásquez 21', Ernesto Vega 57'
Japan JAP
1
Kaoru Mitoma 77'
Full-time

Mexico vs Japan summary: score, goals, highlights - Olympic soccer bronze medal

Calum Roche

COMMENT
Mexico vs Japan summary: score, goals, highlights - Olympic soccer bronze medal

Mexico 3-1 Japan: Olympic Games 2020

Mexico 3-1 Japan: bronze medal match

It was a case of clinical finishing being the difference between these two sides today.

Japan can be so proud of their efforts, after a slow start, and had several opportunities to win this game. That said, Mexico likely always had something in reserve after taking a comfortable lead.

FULL-TIME: Mexico win Olympic bronze

Goals: Córdova 12' (p), Vásquez 21', Vega 57'; Mitoma 77'

90+5

Peep, peep, peeeeeeep! The full-time whistle blows.

90+4

One last chance for Japan, which turns into three with rebounded efforts, but the ball finally rolls into Ochoa's arms. That is almost certainly that.

90+3

Ochoa booked for taking his time

90+1

Milimeters away from Mitoma

I may be jumping between imperial and metric measurements but the highlights of this match will show just how close Japan have come to scoring on several occasions.

The latest from Mitoma is created by him, jinking into a shooting position on the edge of the Mexican penalty box, and Ochoa can only watch and pray that the strike doesn't slip inside the left-hand post.

It doesn't.

90

Four minutes to be added after all those subs.

89

Hatate inches away

A cleverly worked corner from Japan sees Reo Hatate collect, control and strike on the edge of the area. It looked to have found the bottom corner but the net did not bulge.

So, so close.

87

Remember I said in the build-up that these two sides were the dirtiest - based on cards handed out - of all the nations taking part in this year's Olympics? Well we almost saw just why that was as a bit of niggle emerges between a selection of the players.

In the end, some stern words from the ref and we carry on.

86

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Esquivel and Aguirre ON for Rodriguez and Martin

84

Miyoshi has some serious skills and beats two covering defenders as he dribbles in circles. The problem is that circles have a habit of not leading anywhere...as was just demonstrated.

83

Mexico are sitting back as their first intent, just leaving Martin higher up the park for the counter.

Japan trying to make space but there's a lot less on offer.

80

Koji Miyoshi on for Endo as Japan chase this in the final 10 minutes.

80

Ueda the latest to have his name taken down by the ref, and he is not complaining after that challenge.

79

Mexico changes

Fernando Beltran and Roberto Alvarado ON for Vega and Cordova

78

GOAL!! Finally Ochoa beaten

Mitoma does brilliantly to ghost round the defender on the left and fire hard and high into the roof of the net. Game on??

77

More Ochoa as he denies Ueda, this a little easier that the previous one.

75

Ochoa: what a save!

Mitoma sneaks past the attention of two defenders on the left side of the area and fires off a shot that is destined for the far top corner.

That is until Ochoa throws out a left hand and tips it over. Wonderful save!

74

The pace of the game has dropped a notch in the last few minutes, basically the Mexico plan, but their Tokyo hosts burst into life to win the ball back.

That leads to a shot towards goal but it's blocked well.

71

Tanaka makes way for Ko Itakura

68

A lightning attack from Japan, once again with some lovely touches, frees Ueda who can pick his spot.

He elects to go low to the left, but Ochoa is every bit his match and blocks. Cracking save but it's another example of Japan's problem: lovely play, poor finishing.

68

The game has really opened up now and Mexico happy to push on for more goals. The latest move was snappy enough, but as they moved the ball around looking for a shooting chance, one was slack and Japan break.

65

Nice skills from Kubo just inside the opposition area almost gets him in but three watching defenders were enough to thwart him.

Magic needed from the Real Madrid man or another to get back into this.

63

Two more changes for Japan:

Mitoma and Ueda ON for Nakayama and Hayashi.

62

Another golden chance for El Tri. I have put a month's salary on him finishing off that slick counter... and now be regretting it.

It's just wide as the goal gaped in front of him.

60

Mexico inches from making it four! Recent addition Antuna drives an effort low from the right side of the goal.

The keeper is beaten... but it slides just wide of the far post.

58

GOAL!! Vega bullet header for third

That is a stunning finish from the Guadalajara forward, drilling a header from around the penalty spot into the net.

Delivery from Cordova's corner.

58

Uriel Antuna comes on for the injured Lainez.

56

Lainez has been lively but he's hurt and it looks as though he won't be able to continue. The physio supports him as he leaves the pitch.

54

Cordova almost kills game

Straight from the last scare, Mexico get down the other end at pace, Lainez driving through the centre and then laying it on a platter for Cordova just to his left.

The Club America star hit it first time but Tani does well to block then gather.

52

What a Doan chance!

When someone like Endo dinks a perfect ball into the middle of the box to an unmarked teammate in front of goal, the net is expected to be troubled.

Doan, however, had another take on it, and heads over Ochoa's crossbar. Japan have to be much more clinical if they're getting back into this.

49

Lainez scampers away down the right wing chasing a long pass forward but is nudged to the ground by the defender. His reaction to the assistant as he gets up suggests he was violently attacked. He wasn't.

Japan made a change at the break: Reo Hatate on for Soma

46

Japan get us going and will hope to return to the period of play they left with. It's all a bit tight in the middle of the park as Mexico appear happy to snuff out play for consecutive throw ins. Time keeps ticking on...

The second half is underway...

The players are making their way out of the tunnel, Mexico with no urgency.

Half-time thoughts

Mexico started this bronze medal match strongly, Japan struggling to make anything happen.

The two goals that followed felt like the game was firmly in the hands of the travelling side but there were signs as the half progressed that it may not be over just yet.

A goal for the all-whites and we have a contest once again.

Half-time

Goals: Cordova (pen '12), Vasquez ('21)

45+2

Peeeep! The ref sends everyone for some modern-day version of sliced oranges.

45+2

Sumo appeared to have been sent away into acres of space down the left, with Mexico's line high up the pitch.

Montes was aware of the danger and went early with a sliding tackle, one he made brilliantly. And that is likely to be that for the first half.

45

We'll have two additional minutes.

45

Another Japan attack sees Real Madrid's Kubo on the right side again. Just as Doan a few seconds ago, the cross fails to find a teammate and Ochoa deals with it well.

44

Ochoa called upon

Doan does really well in the inside right channel, creating space with a stepover and the firing in a low cross. The keeper had to get down fast to deal with it, which he did expertly.

42

Sanchez the latest to go into the book for that last challenge. Not sure I agree with that one either.

42

Sumo decides he's going to test Sanchez in a sprint down the left of the midfield and he appears he may have the edge.

The Mexican wasn't about to let him prove that point, however, and sticks a strong shoulder on him, knocking him out of the pitch.

40

Another cross sent in from Cordova - it's actually been a good while since Mexico have offered anything going forward - but it's just too long as Lainez sneaks in at the back post.

39

If you love intricate interplay in the opposition's penalty area then this Japan side is giving you a treat.

If you're more a fan of a team getting a proper shot at goal away, then they're not.

38

Lainez gets clattered once again and the ref is across to see that he's ok - as well as reminding him who's officiating the game.

35

The roles appear to have been reversed with the CONCACAF side struggling to hold onto the ball, just punting it clear at times when under pressure in their own half.

Japan now trying to force the issue, almost as if it took them 30 minutes to remember there was an Olympic medal at stake.

33

Whether Japan have increased their intensity or Mexico are happy to sit back, I'm not sure, but there's certainly much more happening when the white shirts have the ball.

No more chances at goal as yet but a much better flow from the host nation.

31

The initial corner came to nothing but the follow up allowed Hayashi to have a go.

Ochoa is called into action from the striker's effort but nothing he couldn't have dealt with as a schoolboy.

28

Instead of trying to pick out someone in the area it's a direct thwack towards goal. Ochoa would have had to be sharp but for the intervention of Montes who gets a strong header to it in front of him. Corner.

27

Vasquez sees yellow. The goalscorer gets his blocking tackle all wrong and Japan have a chance to deliver from just outside the area on the right side.

25

Just as after the first goal, Japan show what they are capable of. A slick move down the left ends with a low curling effort from Soma that doesn't have enough whip about it.

Lots more of that needed now if another host medal is to be collected.

Vasquez calling it early

22

GOAL!! Vasquez doubles the lead

What a delivery from Cordova and Johan Vazquezz times his run perfectly to meet it with a low header. Tani had no chance, although question marks over the defending.

21

Martin is almost in, but a very delayed flag calls him off.

19

Endo goes into the book for that challenge. Harsh from where I'm sitting, as he seemed to have every right to go for the ball. #goalkeepersunion

18

Endo chance!

A delightful move from the Japanese players sees a backheel from Hayashi playing in Endo who stretches to nudge it past Ochoa.

The veteran keeper gets to it a millisecond before him though and then feels the force of his boot. Ochoa needs some attention.

16

A little better from Japan as they look to get back on level terms quick smart.

It'll will be interesting to see if the Mexico side sit back a little to soak up more pressure or stay on the front foot.

Passion and pride

12

GOAL!! Cordova strokes home from the spot

Tani starts to move to his left and the Mexican slides the ball just inside the other post.

A deserved lead, it's fair to say.

11

Penalty Mexico!

Or is it? VAR having a look but it looks as though it will stand.

Lovely skill caught out Endo who committed the foul. Was it inside the area though???

8

Japan create their first opening.

Endo collects midway inside the opposition half, pushes the ball into a little space ahead of him and then has a crack. Good closing down at the edge of the area means Ochoa has still had nothing to worry about thus far.

7

Rodriguez and then Angulo get crosses into the Japanese area but, as with the earlier corner, a head above an all white kit intercepts first.

Mexico certainly the more dominant side without making too much of it.

6

No real rhythm to this encounter just yet although it's still early days. Kubo there tries to break out of midfield but is forced wide and the ball is out of play.

4

Corner delivered into the six-yard area but a strong head away clears any danger.

3

First shot it anger as Lainez cuts in from the right and swings with his left.

There's a satisfying thud as his boot makes contact but the closing defender takes the sting (literally) out of it and the ball bounces away for a our first corner.

1

Mexico in their familiar green and white get the early possession but are unable to get far with it.

Japan win the ball back and immediately fire it down the right flank before handing Mexico a soft foul.

Peeep! We're off

It's just foul

These are the two dirtiest teams in the competition, Japan just edging it on cards handed out, including some red action in the group meeting between these two.

Let's see how this plays out...

Bronze medal whistler

Bamlak Tessema Weyesa is today's referee. The 40-year old hails from Ethiopia and has been a FIFA ref since 2009.

It's amazing how time flies when you're building up to a game and there's so much of interest.

Kick off is almost upon us...

3

Players to watch: Japan

Takefusa Kubo is one of Japan’s leading scorers and top players. Ahead of his game against Spain in the previous round he reflected on a potential meeting with the nation that has helped shape his development.

"Ever since the draw was made, I've known all along that if we got there, our semifinal was going to be against Spain.

"I've been taking it one game at a time so far, but this is where I bring it 100 percent - no, 120 percent, 150 percent. I'm going to lead us to victory."

In the end that didn't happen, but his talent is undeniable.

Inside the Saitama

Sports journalist for the Japan Times, Dan Orlowitz has a decent seat for today's clash. This is where the action will play out.

Japanese arrival

It's home turf for the Japanese lads but they'll know that their CONCACAF opponents will be gunning for them, not only for the bronze medal but also for revenge after their group game earlier in the tournament.

2

Starting XI: Japan

Tani; Sakai, Yoshida, Tomiyasu, Nakayama; Endo, Tanaka, Doan, Soma, Kubo; Hayashi

Starting XI: Mexico

Ochoa; Sanchez, Montes, Vasquez, Angulo; Romo, Rodriguez, Lainez, Cordova, Vega; Martin

It looks as though team news is coming in...

1

Players to watch: Mexico

Mexico’s 28-year-old Henry Martin is the team’s top scorer and will be someone the Japanese coaches will have highlighted as a danger.

Ochoa: a Mexican looking to make amends

An old dream died for Guillermo Ochoa in the semi-finals of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament on Tuesday. And, to make his anguish even more acute, it died at the hands of Brazil, a team the goalkeeper has so often thwarted with brilliant performances.

Mexico lost 4-1 on penalties after a 0-0 draw at Tokyo 2020, but it was a very different story at the Copa America in 2007, when Ochoa made his name in a 2-0 defeat of Brazil, or when his saves frustrated the hosts in a goalless stalemate at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. Mexico gave the Olympic champions a stern test in Kashima, and once again it was the man wearing the gloves who denied A Seleçao time and time again, not least by keeping out Daniel Alves's thunderous free-kick on 23 minutes.

The America keeper was beaten just once during 120 minutes, when Richarlison's powerful header hit a post and rolled along the goalline.

Read more about the legendary goalkeeper looking for a final piece of success.

Switching lands

Home favourites Japan have only won one Olympic medal in soccer, and that was in the home-country of their foe today.

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, Japan left with the bronze medal, making them the first Asian country ever to win a medal in the event.

Asian excitement

The host team got the better of today's opponents when they met in the group stage, and that's the focus given by the social media team of the Asian Cup 2023.

Mexico vs Japan live: hello and welcome

Mexico are back for an Olympic medal!

After winning gold in 2012 - beating a talented Brazil side in the London final - this summer's Games have seen them fall a little short, losing to the samba boys in the semi-finals.

But with a bronze medal on the line, both hosts Japan and Mexico will take to the field with passion and I'm here to bring you details of all that goes on at the Saitama Stadium. The build up starts here...

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