Mexico are out of the World Cup after one of the most dramatic evenings at any World Cup. Poland lost 2-0 against Argentina, which guaranteed the South American side top spot in Group C and led to a myriad permutations.
With Mexico winning by the same scoreline against Saudi Arabia, that meant Gerardo Martino’s side and Poland were level not only on points and goal difference but also goals scored and goals conceded.
Martino’s Mexico were therefore staring at the prospect of going out on Fifa’s fair play rule having collected seven yellow cards to Poland’s five, and becoming the second side – after Senegal four years ago – to exit by that metric.
With seven minutes of time added on, a goal for Mexico would have completed the swing required for an unlikely progression into the round of 16.
Even after Salem Al Dawsari’s stoppage-time consolation strike, a third goal for Mexico would have sent them through on goals scored.
“I am the man responsible for this frustration and disappointment. It is real sadness and I assume all the responsibility for this huge failure,” said Argentine Martino, who will leave his role after the tournament.
“We outplayed the opponent, created more chances and we could have scored as many goals as needed.
“But we failed and I don’t think we were knocked out in the previous matches, rather today.”
Mexico exit at the group stage for the first time since 1978, ending a run of eight straight occasions of advancing to the knockout stage, while Poland’s reward is a meeting with defending champions France on Sunday.