Euro 2020 Special
 

International Friendly: Super Sub Lozano Sinks Iceland

Mexico 2-1 Iceland

Mexico came from behind to beat Iceland 2-1 in their international friendly at AT&T Stadium in Texas. Hirving Lozano came off the bench to score both of goals for Mexico, who went down early to an understrength Iceland side after an Edson Alvarez own goal.

Mexico manager Tata Martino opted to start their tune-up match for their upcoming Nations League semi-final against Costa Rica without some of his big Europe-based stars such as Lozano, Hector Herrera, and Jesus Corona.

But El Tri turned the game around with Lozano and Herrera’s arrival and will now head into their big clash against Costa Rica with more confidence.

Highlights of the game

Iceland came into the match against Mexico as significant underdogs due to the absence of Premier League stars Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

However, Mexico manager Tata Martino made a bit of a surprising decision not to start either of his top two attacking players in Hirving Lozano and Jesus Corona. Instead, El Tri had Henry Martin leading the line in a very defensive 5-4-1 formation.

The Mexicans dominated possession early on, but they were unable to create any dangerous opportunities due to the lack of cutting edge up front.

Meanwhile, Iceland took a shock 1-0 lead with their first meaningful shot of the match on 14 minutes. There was a good bit of fortune in Iceland’s goal, though, as Birkir Már Sævarsson’s effort took a wicked deflection off the knee of Mexico defender Edson Alvarez, which took the ball beyond keeper Alfredo Talavera.

Mexico thought they had a glorious opportunity to equalise on 21 minutes as Uriel Antuna got on the end of a gorgeous long pass and had a one-on-one with Iceland and Arsenal goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson. Antuna failed to score, but he was apparently a fraction offside so the goal wouldn’t have counted had he converted.

Antuna had a couple more chances to test Runarsson in the first half, but his first shot from the edge of the box was comfortably saved, while his second shot went wide.

Mexico made not changes during the break but continued to pile on the pressure on Iceland to start the second half.

Hector Moreno came so close to grabbing the equaliser on 56 minutes as the ball fell to him at the six-yard box. His shot ricocheted off Runarsson back onto Moreno and toward goal, but Iceland’s Bynjar Ingi Bjarnason was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

Still down 1-0, Martino finally made four changes on 63 minutes, with big guns Hirving Lozano and Hector Herrera coming on to provide more international friendly 2021 highlights.

Mexico have beaten Iceland in International Friendly through Hirving Lozano's brace at second half
Mexico players are delighted after beating Iceland, 2-1, in recent International Friendly

However, Lozano very nearly made the crucial error which could have led to Iceland’s second goal. Lozano lost the ball in his own half which led to an Iceland counterattack. Talavera made a terrible decision to come off his line and was caught in no-man’s land. But the Mexico keeper redeemed himself by making a great save at the edge of the penalty area to deny another Iceland goal.

That save would prove to be even more crucial as Mexico would finally get their goal. Iceland committed their own costly error which led to a lightning-quick Mexico counterattack, and Lozano – who caused the mistake in the first place with his pressing – was on hand to finish the move by coolly slotting past Runarsson.

And the Napoli star would complete the turnaround by grabbing another goal just five minutes later. Fellow sub Herrera delivered a good cross into the six-yard box, and the diminutive Lozano simply beat Iceland’s defenders to the ball and headed in his second.

Key statistics

The SBOTOP international friendly 2021 betting odds strongly favoured Mexico against a weakened Iceland side, and the statistics bore out just how dominant Mexico were in this match. They had 19 total shots and nine on target compared to Iceland’s five shots, with one on target. El Tri controlled 74 per cent possession and completed 88 per cent of their passes.

With his two goals, Lozano has now improved his scoring record for his country to 14 goals in 44 appearances, including three goals in three caps this year.

Meanwhile, Mexico have now improved to five games unbeaten against Iceland, with three wins in a row. Moreover, they have now won seven of their nine matches at AT&T Stadium, with one draw and one defeat.

What’s next?

It’s now off to the Mile High City of Denver for Mexico for their CONCACAF Nations League against Costa Rica. And if they successfully defeat the Costa Ricans, they will face the winner of Honduras-USA in the final a few days later.

Meanwhile, Iceland won’t be playing in Euro 2020 but will be back in action with two more friendlies in June. They will first face neighbours Faroe Islands before taking on Poland for one of the Poles’ Euro 2020 tune-up matches.