Goals galore as 2012 champions Mexico beat South Korea 6-3 to reach men’s football semis

Japan, Spain and Brazil also advance with the host nation edging New Zealand in a penalty shootout

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Henry Martin of Mexico scores their fourth goal REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Henry Martin of Mexico scores their fourth goal REUTERS/Matthew Childs

London 2012 gold medalists Mexico defeated South Korea 6-3 in the men’s football tournament at the Nissan Stadium in Kanagawa on Saturday to book a semi-final against Brazil on Tuesday.

The highly-anticipated last eight meeting between the two free-scoring sides lived up to the hype as it produced nine goals in a high octane affair in which South Korea had their moments but Mexico were ruthless in front of goal.

Mexico’s 36-year-old captain and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who has been capped 114 times by his national team, led by example with a stellar display and spurred on his team in a nine-goal thriller which will live long in the memories of the handful of lucky officials and media in the stadium and the millions of fans watching on television around the world.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico reacts REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico reacts REUTERS/Matthew Childs

South Korea made the better start with some fluid counter attacks causing Mexico problems but it was the latter who opened the scoring after 11 minutes.

Alexis Vega showed his trickery on the left wing to beat the South Korean defender and crossed to the far post where Luis Romo headed the ball back across goal and striker Henry Martin of Mexican outfit Club América nodded the ball home.

South Korea restored level terms with an incredible strike from little-known midfielder Donggyeong Lee of Ulsan Hyundai FC who shone and will have put international scouts on alert after a polished display.

Just as it looked like the chance had gone, Lee unleashed a rocket from just outside the box which thundered past the hapless Ochoa.

Mexico regained the lead after 28 minutes when Guadalajara’s attacking midfielder Alexis Vega was tormenting the South Korean defense and played a great through ball for Cruz Azul’s Luis Romo who exquisitely controlled the pinpoint ball with his right foot and neatly slotted home from close range.

Mexico were awarded a penalty when after 38 minutes when Uriel Antuna was brought down in the box after a push.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Sebastian Cordova of Mexico scores their third goal REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Sebastian Cordova of Mexico scores their third goal REUTERS/Matthew Childs

Club América midfielder Sebastian Cordova coolly dispatched the spot kick as he sent the South Korean keeper the wrong way to make it 3-1.

Ochoa was called into action before the break when he produced a finger tip save to send a rifle of a shot onto the bar and over to keep his team in charge 3-1 at the break.

South Korea pulled one back six minutes into the second half after Lee scored his second as he lashed home from inside the box to make it 3-2.

Mexico went straight down the other end and added a fourth as Henry Martin headed home from close range for his second goal.

Teammate Cordova made it 5-2 after 53 minutes with a sumptuous strike from outside the box.

Jorgie Sanchez was booked for a cynical foul on the Korean frontman who was closing in on a one-on-one with the keeper until the tactical foul was made. Sanchez only escaped a red because Mexico had another defender back.

The Tricolor added a sixth after 84 minutes when Real Betis’ skillful young winger Diego Lainez crossed and Santos Laguna striker Eduardo Aguirre finished clinically as Mexico showed their strength in depth by their substitutes combing for another memorable strike.

Ochoa pulled off a great save after 88 minutes as he got down low to his right to block a powerful shot from the edge of the box which was going into the bottom corner.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Lee Donggyeong of South Korea and Lee Kangin of South Korea look dejected after the match REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Soccer Football - Men - Quarterfinal - South Korea v Mexico - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - July 31, 2021. Lee Donggyeong of South Korea and Lee Kangin of South Korea look dejected after the match REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

South Korea, who more than played their part in this thrilling Olympic tie, had the final say as their Bordeaux striker Uijo Hwang pounced to tap in a loose ball from inside the the six yard box from a corner.

Elsewhere Spain defeated the Ivory Coast 5-2 with a hat-trick from Rafa Mir inspiring them to victory.

Hosts Japan needed penalties to see off a spirited New Zealand side whose ranks included Burnley’s Premier League hitman Chris Wood.

Japan prevailed 4-2 on penalties and will now face Spain in the semi-finals.

Brazil were given a thorough workout by Egypt as they won 1-0 through a strike from Hertha BSC attacker Matheus Cunha.

Mexico and Brazil will clash on Tuesday in a mouthwatering semi-final tie which promises goals and drama.

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