Sebastian Cordova has helped lead Mexico to the medal podium…
The 24-year-old Mexican soccer player scored the first goal of the bronze medal match at the 2020 Tokyo Games to help Mexico beat Japan 3-1 and earn a place on the medal stand.
Mexico dominated the host country in the men’s soccer game on Friday night, ending Japan’s hope of a first Olympic medal in 53 years with a 3-1 win at Saitama Stadium.
Three days after both teams played 120 minutes in their respective semifinal losses, Japan languished against a sharper Mexico side, giving up its opening goal by Cordova from the penalty spot and two more from set plays before Kaoru Mitoma’s consolation strike late in the match.
Japan’s only medal in Olympic men’s soccer came at the 1968 Mexico City Games, when the country defeated the host nation for bronze. This time, the outcome was reversed.
“We were quite strong, we took risks and we did what we had to do,” Mexico head coach Jaime Lozano said. “We didn’t achieve our goal of a gold but we knew we’d get a bronze medal, and not even the hosts could take third place from us.”
Moriyasu’s side beat Mexico in their second group game with an early two-goal assault, but this this time it was the team clad in green breaking a scoreless deadlock in the 13th minute, courtesy of a Cordova penalty sent left as Japan goalkeeper Kosei Tani dived in the opposite direction.
Cordova earned the penalty after he was fouled from behind by midfielder Wataru Endo at the top of the area, close enough to the line to inspire a VAR review that eventually upheld referee Bamlaku Weyesa’s initial call.
Lozano’s squad easily created space it couldn’t find when the two teams first met last month and doubled its lead to 2-0 in the 23rd minute when Pumas defender Johan Vasquez headed in Cordova’s free kick past Tani.
The halftime break allowed Japan to reorganize somewhat, with Reo Hatate replacing Yuki Soma to start the second half. But despite some promising runs on goal, Mexico was by far the sharper of the two sides, scoring its third goal off a 58th-minute Cordoba corner kick duly heated in by Alexis Vega.
Substitute midfielder Mitoma spared Japan the embarrassment of a shutout when he slipped through the Mexican back line before steering his attempt past veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in the 78th minute.