Belarus fight past Raul Jimenez brace to topple Mexico in friendly

BY foxsports • November 18, 2014

Poor defending from Mexico allowed Belarus to cancel out Atletico Madrid forward Raul Jimenez's double and ultimately find a winner as El Tri fell to a 3-2 loss Tuesday in their final match of 2014.

Herrera made 10 changes from his starting XI which secured a 3-2 win against the Netherlands last week, with right wingback Paul Aguilar the only player to start both matches on Mexico's swing through Europe.

After a lackluster first half that ended scoreless, the match sprung to life almost immediately after the break with the teams combining for four goals in eight minutes.

Jonathan dos Santos, starting for Mexico for the first time in more than two years, chipped a ball over the top to Rual Jimenez. The Atletico Madrid man was just on side and darted forward to trap the ball with his chest and slide the opener to goalkeeper Sergey Chernik's right-hand side.

Belarus equalized three minutes later when it was awarded a penalty thanks to Aguilar bundling over an attacker in the box. The penalty hit off the post, onto goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera's back and rolled to the onrushing Sergey Kislyak, who slotted it in.

Jimenez was at it again in the 53rd minute with the easiest of finishes after an excellent cross from Gio dos Santos on the right side of the attack. But his goal was again quickly erased, this time two minutes with Belarus taking advantage of weakness on the left side of El Tri's defense. Anton Putsila fired in a hard cross to the head of Nikolay Signevich. With neither player facing any challenge, it looked more like a training exercise than the equalizer in an international friendly.

As El Tri pushed forward with regulars like Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado and Javier "Chichartio" Hernandez coming into the match as substitutes, Belarus tried to hit a number of times on the counterattack with a number of chances going wanting.

It would be something of a fluke that put the hosts into the lead for the first time, with a shot deflected high into the air off a Mexican defender. Substitute forward Pavel Nekhajchik found the ball and hit it past Talavera for the winner.

Though it was the second half which ultimately did it in, Mexico's unfamiliarity showed in the first half. The team struggling to link up, and Belarus had the better chances before the break. The visitor's best chance of the half came in the 42nd minute when "Poncho" Gonzalez shook loose thanks to pass through Belarus' back line from Raul Jimenez, but the midfielder's left-footed effort was stopped by Chernik's outstretched legs.

Belarus nearly had a surprise early lead in the fifth minute after a long ball was kept in by Mikhail Gordeychuk, who moved it to Igor Shitov. Shitov's ball into the box was poorly cleared and fell to midfielder Putsila, who had a shot but fired wide of Talavera's goal.

The match somewhat settled on frigid night in Borisov, with Jimenez and Gio dos Santos both spurning chances in the first 15 minutes. Yet, the good spell didn't last too long with Talavera again called into action on a long shot from outside the box before the 20-minute mark, which he controlled, and scary moments when Aguilar fluffed a clearance but forward Nikolay Signevich didn't put his 22nd-minute effort on the mark.

Gio Dos Santos had a penalty appeal in the 33rd minute when he darted toward the right side of the box and cut inside, but the referee ruled the forward had initatied the contact with the defender and let play continue. A minute later Jonathan Dos Santos was fouled by Signevich, who became the first name in the referee's book.

The defeat will be disappointing for Herrera's men, who were riding high after last week's 3-2 win against the Netherlands, the team which knocked it out of the 2014 World Cup. The year will ultimately be viewed as a successful one, but with Mexico contesting both the Copa America and the Gold Cup next year, the manager will now know he has plenty of work to do before assemlbing two winning sides.

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