In the first match of the day from Group C, Mexico defeated Fiji 5-1 at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador.
With both teams feeling each other out in the opening minutes of the match, attempting to get a grip on possession, it would be the underdogs who would stunningly score first in the 11th minute. After a Mexico pass was intercepted, a long, high cross from the left side was lofted into the air by a Fiji midfielder towards the edge of the penalty area. Mexican goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera raced out of his net in an attempt to clear the cross, yet he was beaten to it by Fiji forward and Captain Roy Krishna. Krishna headed the ball into the open net to give the tiny country from Oceania its first goal of the tournament and a shocking 1-0 lead over the reigning Gold medal winners.
As the half continued, Mexico started to gain a little bit more possession but didn’t create many dangerous scoring chances. Forward Hirving Lozano had Mexico’s lone chance of the half in the 32nd minute when his shot from inside the penalty area was struck venomously, but right at Fiji goalie Simione Tamanisau.
Fiji defended valiantly for the entire first half and even created the odd half-chance when it broke forward on the attack. At the halftime break, in stunning fashion, Fiji was ahead of Mexico 1-0.
Three minutes into the second half, Mexico found the equalizer. Even though the ball appeared to have gone over the endline and out of play, no call by the assistant referee was made. Mexican midfielder Carlos Cisneros whipped the ball in towards the top of the penalty area that found midfielder Erick Gutierrez. Gutierrez controlled the pass, turned, and fired a shot that deflected off a Fiji defender and into the goal. The match was tied 1-1.
In the 55th minute, El Tri would take the lead thanks to Erick Gutierrez' second goal of the match. Forward Oribe Peralta clipped a left-footed pass in the penalty area to the chest of Gutierrez who controlled it and fired a left-footed shot past Tamanisau for the 2-1 advantage.
Mexico found its groove and in the 58th minute, Gutierrez clinched his hat-trick. Cisneros, once again, made a run down the right side towards the endline and slipped a pass across the goalmouth that found the on-charging Gutierrez. Gutierrez first-timed the pass into the net to give his team a comfortable 3-1 lead.
The CONCACAF side would extend its lead to 4-1 in the 67th minute when a corner kick was flicked on by Peralta to the feet of defender Carlos Salcedo who redirected the ball with his left-foot over the line.
In the 71st minute, Gutierrez would impressively notch his fourth goal of the match. Off a throw-in, Peralta flicked a pass on to Gutierrez who strode in on goal and cheekily lobbed the ball over Tamanisau to make the scoreline 5-1.
The Mexicans breezed through the rest of the contest and comfortably secured the 5-1 win to secure three points and a place atop the Group C standings.
As it currently stands, with Germany and South Korea still to play, Mexico is first in the group with four points and a +4 goal differential. Korea is in second with three points and a +8 goal differential with Germany in third with one point and a zero goal differential. Fiji is in last with no points and a -12 goal differential.
Mexico’s final group game will take place on Wednesday, August 10th at 3pm vs. South Korea. That contest will take place in Brasilia. Fiji closes out its Olympic campaign against Germany at the same time in Belo Horizonte.