Four second half goals evenly split saw Mexico and Germany play out a highly entertaining 2-2 draw in their first ever Olympic football match-up.
Mexico appeared to relish the occasion early on. Their lively wingers Hirving Lozano and Rodolfo Pizarro made good use of the flanks in the early exchanges with the former particularly potent; after flashing a shot just over Timo Horn’s bar six minutes in, his run and cross somehow evaded any awaiting Mexico player in the middle. But the Olympic champions’ dominance didn’t last as Germany found their feet, with Julian Brandt proving a lively and creative outlet.
Impressive, too, was the movement of RB Leipzig centre forward Davie Selke, who managed to evade the attention of the Mexico defenders on numerous occasions. However, Germany’s fluidity evaporated when midfielder and captain Leon Goretzka was withdrawn due to injury as a tame first half ended goalless.
But if the first period was a rather cautious affair, the second was anything but. Soon after the restart, Oribe Peralta powered in a header from a corner. But the German response was supreme. Serge Gnabry, on for the injured skipper, missed the target after a delicate one-two with Klostermann but made no such error with his next effort, clipping home after a gorgeous ball from Niklas Süle, quickly making amends for his defensive lapse during Mexico’s first.
But the stalemate didn’t last – Lozano’s teasing cross wasn’t converted at first but it fell to the feet of Pizarro and, just one yard out, had very little to do in restoring his 1side’s lead.
Mexico persisted with their counter-attacking as Germany continued to threaten through Gnabry and Brandt. As the game got more stretched, however, the chances came thick and fast for the Central Americans. However, after spurning a host of golden chances, it seemed inconceivable that Mexico wouldn’t live to regret their profligacy in front of goal. And so it proved, as Borussia Dortmund’s Matthias Ginter thumped in a header from the corner a little over ten minutes from time. While the final moments passed without incident, the game represented the archetypal ‘game of two halves’ which neither side deserved to lose.