SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The international friendly between Mexico and Iceland at Levi’s Stadium was everything you could want from a match between two teams that will play in this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Iceland, lead my captain Aron Gunnarsson, played a spectacular first half hour, often dominating play and earning the game’s first quality scoring opportunity. If not for the heroics of Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona in the 25th minute, Iceland would have secured an early 1-0 goal advantage.
But Mexico withstood the impressive play of Iceland, and against the run of play, took a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute. After a high-boot foul gifted El Tri a free kick at the top of the area, midfielder Marco Fabian stepped up to the ball and, after a touch from Raul Jimenez put the ball in play, blasted a sublime kick into the back of the net, eluding the desperate attempt by goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson to stop the unstoppable shot.
MARCO FABIAN!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 24, 2018
What a beauty from the Eintracht Frankfurt man to put Mexico ahead 1-0. pic.twitter.com/zsoKcUVZV9
Fabian, who is hoping to cement his place in Mexico’s World Cup squad, strengthened his case to make the team with the golazo. Viewed in slow motion, the Eintracht Frankfurt’s midfielders stunning technique was very much on display.
#MEXvISL ICYMI— Mexican National Team (@miseleccionmxEN) March 24, 2018
Here's @MarcoFabian_10 G⚽️⚽️⚽️LAZO! #SoyMéxico | #MEXTOUR pic.twitter.com/uK2cF6MJfl
The goal stunned Iceland, the better team to that point, but they fought back to create a pair of scoring chances before the halftime whistle. Neither opportunity came to fruition, and Mexico entered the break with their 1-0 lead intact.
Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio must have lit a fire under his squad during halftime, as the second half started much more in El Tri’s favor. The tentativeness on the ball the players exhibited in the game’s first 45 minutes were a distant memory, and the Iceland players found themselves chasing the ball.
In the 64th minute, Mexico doubled its lead on a perfectly executed attack. Hirving Lozano, who entered the game at the half, slid a perfect pass into the path of Miguel Layun running the right flank. The Sevilla full back directed his shot in off the far post to extend Mexico’s advantage to 2-0.
Chucky Lozano finds Miguel Layun to give Mexico the 2-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/qmx69c70ym— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 24, 2018
The sell-out crowd at Levi’s roared its approval at the goal, with the 68,917 in attendance — the third largest crowd for a soccer game in Levi’s Stadium’s nearly four year history — celebrating El Tri’s reward for it’s second half dominance.
Iceland didn’t give up, and in the 76th minute knocked a shot off the post. A follow-up shot hit the back of the net, but the goal was waved off on an offside call.
So close for #Iceland! The first shot hit the post and then they thought they'd scored from close range, but it was ruled out for offside. #Mexico #ElTri #MEXISL #MEXvsISL pic.twitter.com/iIMRBCqvY6— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 24, 2018
The Iceland comeback attempt fizzled out after that, as Mexico took care of the ball and in stoppage time, added a third goal to boot. It was Layun again, this time sending in a deep cross that caught Iceland’s goalkeeper off his line.
The match ended soon after, as Mexico sent the crowd home happy with a less than convincing, but overall entertaining, 3-0 victory.