Disappointment for Gio and Aquino as Mexico go out; Gio scores Mexican goal

Michael Steele

Gio dos Santos became the first Villarreal player to score a goal at the World Cup. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as Mexico lost in stoppage time.

Well done, Giovani dos Santos!  The Villarreal striker became the first player to score in the World Cup while a member of the Yellow Submarine, collecting a ball at the top of the box and hitting a spectacular half-volley past the Dutch keeper to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute.

Unfortunately, Gio was withdrawn 13 minutes later.  The substitution was also historic--one Villarreal player for another, Javier Aquino coming on for Gio--but it was a strange move to make.  While admittedly Aquino offered more tracking-back ability than Gio, why sacrifice one of your most creative players at this point?  Why not bring on Aquino for Peralta so the two Villarreal players could use their club understanding to create something?

Mexico ended up paying the price for becoming too defensive--Aquino had some nice gallops down the left side of the Dutch defense, but had little support.  And almost inevitably, Holland equalized off a corner--similar to the only goal in the USA-Germany match, the first ball was dealt with but the second wasn't, Wesley Sneijder arrowing a shot past Guillermo Ochoa.  And in injury time the final act of the tragedy played out, Rafa Marquez (who else could it be) sticking a foot out in a clumsy challenge on Arjen Robben (again, who else could it be) and the Dutchman winning a fairly soft penalty with a straightforward embellishment of the foul.

Admittedly, Robben should have won a penalty in the first half on a plat which ended up with a broken leg for Mexican defender Moreno, and the victory owed much to Dutch coach Louis van Gaal's tactical adjustments--but Mexican fans, and coach Herrera, were left raging at the referee and complaining, not without some justification in my book, why did FIFA let a European referee work a tie involving a European nation? (Not that Mexico had much luck with the others, either).

So, 'el submarino Aquino' as they kept calling him on the Mexican feed, and Gio, head home.  Jonathan de Guzmán, who did not appear today, continues for the Netherlands.  Next up will be the amazing Ticos of Costa Rica, who outlasted Greece despite being a man down from the 60th minute on surviving 30 minutes of extra time and winning a penalty shootout.  It's been quite a day.

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