Some would argue third-place matches are unnecessary. Others would argue the Confederations Cup is an unnecessary tournament.
So in what’s become a running gag, the third-place match of the Confederations Cup can’t stop going to extra time.
For the fourth straight edition of the tournament, more than 90 minutes were needed to decide the gap between third and fourth, this time with Portugal scoring in stoppage time before adding a penalty in extra time to defeat Mexico 2-1 on Sunday in Moscow.
El Tri had been the comeback kings in Russia, rallying from deficits to earn points in all three group stage matches, including scoring a stoppage-time equalizer against Portugal. This time, the European champions turned the tables.
Acting team captain Pepe, who was given the armband after superstar Cristiano Ronaldo asked permission to skip the match to be with his newborn twins, outmuscled Mexican defender Miguel Layun to get a foot to Ricardo Quaresma’s cross with three and a half minutes left to tie the game:
Mexico were just 3 minutes away from a 3rd-place finish at #ConfedCup.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 2, 2017
Layun’s rough finish continued in the 103rd minute, when his effort to block Gelson Martins’s shot in the box left his arm dangling and resulted in a penalty kick after the deflection. Adrien Silva fired a decisive spot-kick into the lower right-hand corner to win the match.
Portugal handed Mexico an opportunity to equalize almost immediately in the second extra period when Nelson Semedo violently kicked Hirving Lozano’s head to earn his second yellow card and a sending off. It barely lasted six minutes, as Raul Jimenez saw red for a high foot to Eliseu to even the match back up at 10 men apiece.
Mexico was manhandled by what amounted to Germany’s B-team on Thursday and came into the match searching for a measure of redemption. The CONCACAF champions nearly found it, going ahead in the 54th minute on an own goal by Luis Neto that was the result of a nice piece of one-on-one play by Javier Hernandez down the left side.
It wouldn’t have been El Tri’s best finish at the Confederations Cup – they won it as hosts in 1999 – but it would have been a nice feather in the cap to take home. The match also might mark the last appearance for defender Rafa Marquez, who would leave with the fourth-most caps in Mexican history and as one of the national team’s most hallowed, decorated stewards.
Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio added some late fireworks when he got into the fourth official’s face near the end of extra time and was sent to the stands.
Despite the loss, Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was named Man of the Match after several impressive saves, while his Portugal counterpart Rui Patricio also had a strong day, especially in blocking a skipping rocket by Hector Herrera late in extra time.
It was that close to going to penalty kicks. Ultimately, the comeback specialists couldn’t do it one more time.
More soccer coverage from FC Yahoo:
• Germany knocks out Mexico in convincing performance
• USMNT newcomers show well in Gold Cup tune-up victory
• Chile outlasts Portugal on PKs in Confederations Cup semis