Bosnia-Herzegovina hands Mexico its first defeat under Herrera
JUN 04, 2014 12:00a ET
Bosnia-Herzegovina ended Mexico’s eight-match unbeaten run with a 1-0 victory in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Izet Hajrović scored the decisive goal four minutes before halftime to consolidate Bosnia’s bright start to the match. Asmir Begović produce two fine saves in the waning stages to repel El Tri’s late push to grab an equalizer and prolong its unbeaten run under Miguel Herrera.
Mexico hardly deserved a result on the night after failing to find its footing with a revamped lineup and presenting only an intermittent threat. The cohesiveness and the rhythm generated in the previous victories over Israel and Ecuador dissipated as El Tri failed to adjust to a more capable and robust outfit.
The display left Herrera with plenty of questions still to answer as he ponders the composition of his side against Cameroon on June 13. The inability to answer several quandaries in the starting XI will force Herrera to choose his lineup for the friendly against Portugal carefully and heap pressure on his players to respond after a substandard display.
Bosnia asserted dominion over the match from the outset with its application and its superior numbers in midfield. The balance between the sides allowed Bosnia to dominate the proceedings and pose a threat to the makeshift Mexican defense in the early stages. Edin Džeko imposed his will promptly and produced three chances inside the opening eight minutes, though he will wonder how exactly he skied over the bar from eight yards.
Mexico’s inability to cope with Bosnia’s compact 4-2-3-1 shape forced Herrera into a tactical rethink after the opening quarter of an hour. Carlos Salcido pushed into midfield to convert the usual 5-3-2 shape into a 4-4-2 setup to make better use of the two spare men in central defense.
The shift prompted Mexico to improve a bit on the counter and paved the way for a glorious chance. Miguel Layún hit an inviting diagonal toward the center forward channel. Javier Hernández did ever so well to bring it down neatly with his first touch and place it in a position to shoot, but his driven effort hit the far post and bounced wide.
Chicharito’s effort proved a rare break for El Tri amid the Bosnian dominance. The pressure eventually told four minutes before the interval as the Bosnians finally produced the goal they deserved after their impressive first-half display.
Džeko distributed the ball out to the left side of the penalty area to pull apart the Mexican shape. Senand Lulić played Sejad Salihović into space behind the line and presented Salihović with a chance to pull back toward the penalty spot. Hajrović drifted into the right area unmarked and swept home first time to stake Bosnia to a halftime lead.
Herrera made yet another set of changes during the break and shifted to a diamond in midfield. Those efforts produced a modest improvement on the whole, but El Tri still lacked the necessary incisiveness to pick apart the organized Bosnian defense for long spells.
Chances were few and far for much of the second half the second half as the steady stream of substitutions robbed the game of most of its rhythm. Džeko squandered yet another good chance by heading wide after making an unchecked run to meet a corner kick at the near post just after the hour.
The wastefulness nearly cost Bosnia dearly in the late stages as Mexico attempted to rescue the night with a late equalizer. Second-half substitute Maza Rodríguez nearly procured a late winner from a free kick four minutes from time. Rodriguez diverted Andrés Guardado toward the far post, but Begović responded brilliantly to tip around the post.
Begović produced yet another stellar stop to repel Mexico one last time in second-half stoppage time. Ponce cut inside from the left and fired from distance, but Begović managed to turn around the near post once again to ensure his side claimed a deserved victory on the night and ended El Tri’s unbeaten run under Herrera.