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Jun 29, 2014

El Tri grades: Mexico wilt at the end

Roberto Martinez argues that Giovani dos Santos' goal was the worst thing for Mexico as El Tri lost control of the match.

Hearts were broken again for Mexico as two late goals from the Netherlands send El Tri packing in a thrilling 2-1 victory for the Dutch.

Mexico controlled the tempo in the first half with Hector Herrera in particular a thorn in the side of the Dutch defense. Chances from Oribe Peralta and Giovani dos Santos were left wanting as El Tri failed to capitalize on what was a spirited first 45 minutes. Miguel Herrera's team also did well to maintain its defensive shape and keep the Netherlands' attacking trio of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben relatively anonymous.

However, that all nearly went out the window when a Rafael Marquez giveaway nearly gave a Dutch goal right before halftime. In a World Cup where Mexico has perhaps been on the short end of a referee's call, El Tri were fortunate to avoid a penalty for Hector Moreno's tackle on Robben in the box.

Mexico's positive momentum continued into the second half and culminated with the game's first goal as a strike from Dos Santos screamed past Netherlands keeper Jasper Cillessen.

The goal woke up the Dutch, and the 2010 runner-up thought they had the equalizer only for Guillermo Ochoa to deny them with a save off his face from point-blank range. Ochoa was called into action again after a careless Diego Reyes giveaway, but the sure-handed stopper denied Robben on a 74th-minute chance.

But there was nothing Ochoa could do to stop Sneijder's equalizer in the 88th minute as the Galatasaray man fired in a shot after a corner kick landed at his feet. Smelling blood, the Dutch pressed for a late winner, and a Marquez foul on Robben drew a penalty that substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted to dash El Tri's dream.

Player ratings for El Tri (out of 10)

Guillermo Ochoa (GK) - 8.5
After a quiet first half, Ochoa was pressed into duty in the second half as the Dutch hunted for an equalizer. Ochoa took a ball off his face that miraculously rang off the post and out. The former Ajaccio goalkeeper also did well to keep out a Robben shot in the 74th minute. Ochoa could do little to stop the Sneijder equalizer and the Huntelaar penalty conversion.

Paul Aguilar (RWB) - 6.5
Aguilar was able to get behind the Dutch defense a few times in the first half but was pressed into defensive duties once Mexico went ahead. He committed a couple of silly fouls in his own half in the second stanza but overall helped El Tri clear away Dutch chances in the latter stages of the affair.

Francisco Rodriguez (CB) - 6
Had to stay attentive on vertical balls played in for Van Persie and Robben in the first half and teamed up with Marquez to keep the Netherlands mostly at bay in the second half. Another solid match from the veteran defender.

Rafael Marquez (CB) - 4.5
After playing a nearly composed and commandeering first half, Marquez committed a massive error with a giveaway that nearly led to a Netherlands goal. Was also beat by Stefan de Vrij on the corner that Ochoa saved with his face. Marquez was then guilty of the foul in the area that set up the Dutch winner. An unfortunate ending to the captain's World Cup campaign.

Hector Moreno (CB) - 6
Initially helped keep Van Persie in check and was asked to bring the ball forward on several occasions but was fortunate not to be called for a penalty on a last-ditch tackle on Robben after Marquez's giveaway. The Espanyol man injured himself on the play and was replaced by Reyes at halftime.

Miguel Layun (LWB) - 5.5
Layun did well to use his pace to beat the Dutch defense on the left, but his crosses were lacking in quality. Like Aguilar, the Dos Santos goal saw the Club America man drop further back, and he was a nonfactor in the second half.

Hector Herrera (AM) - 7
Herrera seems to get better with every World Cup match. The Porto man was a menace with his play in midfield, firing in shots and nearly pulling off a Bergkamp-esque first touch on a long ball into the Dutch area. Did not see enough of the ball in the second half.

Carlos Salcido (DM) - 6
Playing in place of the suspended Jose Juan Vazquez, Salcido broke up play well. He may not be as fast as Vazquez, but the veteran's smarts provided the necessary tranquility in the Mexicans' defensive midfield for a good stretch until the late Dutch onslaught.

Andres Guardado (AM) - 6
Like the rest of the Mexican midfield, Guardado was active and always looking to move forward with the ball, while his defense helped force the Netherlands to play more lateral and negative balls than usual. Was not as effective in the second half as in the first.

Giovani dos Santos (F) - 8.5
After spurning several chances in the first half, Dos Santos struck with a golazo in the 48th minute when he hauled a ball in off his chest, fended off Dutch defender Daley Blind and rocketed in a left-footed shot from outside the area. Made way at the hour mark for Javier Aquino.

Oribe Peralta (F) - 7
It was vintage Peralta. Active, winning balls, drawing fouls and keeping Cillessen on his toes with shots on goal. His flick-on to Guardado led to Mexico's best chance in the first half, but he will be left to rue what could have been.

Giovani dos Santos scored an impressive goal as Mexico took the lead over the Netherlands.

Substitutes

Diego Reyes (on for Moreno, 45th minute) - 6
Reyes saw his first action in this World Cup. The debutant showed no sign of nerves with his first few touches, but his careless giveaway nearly led to a Robben goal in the 74th minute.

Javier Aquino (on for Dos Santos, 61st minute) - 6
Aquino saw little of the ball, but when he did have possession, the Villarreal man worked hard to relieve as much pressure as possible on his defense. His late chance for an equalizer came up just shy.

Javier Hernandez (on for Peralta, 75th minute) - 6
Had few touches after coming on. Unable to find a miraculous late goal for Mexico.