Mexico 3-1 Japan: El Tri advances to the gold-medal game

Mike Slane
August 7, 2012

LONDON -- Mexico had stated all along that it was going for a medal, and now it has one.

The only question left is whether it will be gold or silver.

For the first time in the nation's history, Mexico will finish better than fourth place in the Olympic Games after defeating Japan 3-1 in the semifinals at Wembley Stadium.

El Tri will face either South Korea or Brazil for the gold medal later this week in London.

After falling behind by a goal early on following a wonderful strike from Japan's Yuki Otsu, Mexico responded with a header from Marco Fabian and a rocket from Oribe Peralta. Javier Cortes added to Tri's tally for good measure in the closing seconds.

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Mexico remains unbeaten in five Olympic matches this summer, only drawing once in its opener against South Korea. The CONCACAF champs won Group B to set up the match against Group A's runner-up Japan.

It took just 12 minutes for the Japanese to find the back of the net and put Mexico in an early hole for the first time during the tournament.

Yuki Otsu scored his third goal of these Games on a one-touch shot from just outside the box. The ball was perfectly placed into the upper 90, leaving goalkeeper Jose Corona with no chance of making a save.

But Mexico would respond.

In 31st minute, Giovani Dos Santos whipped in a corner kick with his left foot and after a Japanese defender tapped it with his head, Fabian was able to hammer the ball home. It was his first goal of the competition for Fabian and first conceded by Japan in five Olympic games.

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Mexico gained control for the remainder of the half and the two teams entered halftime all tied up. But El Tri would be forced to play the second half without leading-scorer Dos Santos.

The Tottenham midfielder was replaced at halftime by Raul Jimenez in a very questionable decision by coach Fernando Luis Tena, who had benched Dos Santos for the first two games before moving him in the starting lineup for the previous three matches.

The second half went back and forth before Mexico took the lead in the 62nd minute thanks to a giveaway from Japan and an incredible shot from Peralta.

The 28-year-old striker - one of the three over-age players along with Corona and Carlos Salcido for Mexico - took advantage of a Japan turnover in the midfield. Javier Aquino disrupted the play and found Peralta for the strike.

Peralta and Dos Santos are the only Mexican players with multiple goals in the tournament.

Japan pushed toward the end but Mexico would be the team to add another goal to the entertaining match as Cortes walked the ball past Japanese defenders and fired past keeper Shuichi Gonda.

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