In World Cup qualifying, sometimes it doesn’t matter how ugly a result is as long as you take home all three points. On Sunday night, this was the case for Mexico‘s men’s national team as they snuck past Honduras with a narrow 1-0 victory in CONCACAF’s Octagonal round of qualifying for Qatar 2022. With a lone goal from Edson Alvarez in the 70th minute, and not a single shot on target until the second half, Mexico escaped from Honduras with a messy but vital result.
“You had to be calm, patient,” goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa told TUDN after the final whistle. “The team showed character and tried to play the entire time. In World Cup qualifiers, what’s important are the points.”
With three more points in hand, El Tri need just a draw against El Salvador on Wednesday to earn an automatic place at the 2022 World Cup. A loss could even be enough, depending on the outcome of Costa Rica vs. United States. It’s a fantastic position to be in — especially with an intercontinental playoff spot guaranteed in a worst-case scenario — but a bittersweet feeling remains about Mexico’s national team.
Specifically, Mexico’s attack and lack of goal scoring have caused worries. Against last-place Honduras, Mexico failed to find much creativity or imagination in the final third. Time and time again, they slowly moved the ball up the field and looked far too ponderous as they shifted the ball horizontally before inevitably losing possession or providing a poor pass.
It was undeniably timid and, unfortunately for El Tri, this wasn’t just a one-off. In their previous qualifier against the United States, Mexico struggled to a 0-0 draw at home. Against Panama last month, a lone goal from a penalty in the 80th minute pushed them to a narrow 1-0 win. Prior to that, Mexico only had one shot on target in a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica.