Mexico dramatically missed out on the World Cup knockout phase despite a spirited 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia.
In a thrilling finale to Group C at the Lusail Stadium, Henry Martin’s opener (47) and Luis Chavez’s spectacular free-kick (52), combined with Argentina’s 2-0 victory over Poland, left Mexico with three stoppage-time minutes to find the third goal needed to avoid exiting the group due to an inferior fair play points total.
Poland progressed as Group C runners-up by virtue of a superior goal difference.
Saudi Arabia’s hopes of securing victory needed to seal their progress into the last 16 failed to get off the ground but, out of nowhere, Salem Al-Dawsari struck in stoppage-time to leave Mexico needing to score two more goals, all but ending their chances of leapfrogging Poland.
The result means Group C winners Argentina will face Australia on Saturday and runners-up Poland will take on France in the last 16 on Sunday, as Mexico reflect on what might have been having left themselves with too much to do after announcing their arrival at the tournament in the final group game.