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2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - CONCACAF, Third Round

Mexico stifled by Costa Rica in scoreless draw in World Cup qualifying

Mexico was stifled by Costa Rica in a scoreless draw in World Cup qualifying in Sunday.

The start to the match was a slow one at the Estadio Azteca. Mexico struggled with breaking down Costa Rica's defensive approach, and although they eventually found the back of the net through a shot from Rogelio Funes Mori in the 30th minute, the goal was ultimately called back.

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As for Los Ticos, the visitors squandered a couple of golden opportunities off counters. Most notably, in the 40th minute, midfielder Celso Borges sent a header from close range straight into the arms of Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Things picked up slightly in the second half. Mexico manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino made immediate halftime changes with the introduction of Orbelin Pineda and Luis Romo, urging his team to push higher up the pitch. By the 74th minute, Henry Martin, Gerardo Arteaga and Alexis Vega had also made their way onto the field in Mexico's more proactive setup.

Nonetheless, Costa Rica did well to halt the CONCACAF giants. The Central American side happily sat back and absorbed pressure as Mexico ran into difficulties with creating dangerous opportunities. Lacking ideas, El Tri spent most of the launching shots over the head of goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

From the sideline, Costa Rica manager Luis Fernando Suarez continued to keep his squad highly organized and compact as they stifled Mexico through the final whistle, thereby earning a valuable 0-0 away result.

"The game from Mexico, in general terms, was bad. It was bad, especially in the first half. I believe we improved in the second half," Martino admitted in the post-game press conference. "But in general we played badly."

Both teams will now close out the international break with Octagonal matches on Wednesday, February 2nd. While Mexico will host Panama, Costa Rica will make the trip to the Caribbean to face Jamaica.