Sport

Mexico snatch draw against Portugal in frantic finish

Coasting in the North American qualifying group for the World Cup, Mexico will be strengthening themselves to spring an upset against their European opponents. CONCACAF qualifying, combined with the regular friendlies in the United States, mean it is often hard to measure exactly where El Tri rates on the world stage at any given time.

The result left European champion Portugal and Gold Cup victor Mexico trailing host Russian Federation in Group A. Russian Federation opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over New Zealand on Saturday.

But a year to the day on from a 7-0 capitulation against Chile in the Copa America Centenario, Mexico responded in its first game since against a team in the top 10 in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings.

Mexico has appeared at six of the nine FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments to date, and is the only contender in this year's tournament that has held champion status.

Mexico's Javier Hernandez, second from left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Portugal and Mexico, at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Sunday, .

The second half started as if both teams were taking a slight breather before building up for the finish and, after that initial lull, the crowd of 34,372 urged the teams on and the game became increasingly open. There are two games to go and that's why we're cool, we're at ease.

Earlier, Ronaldo had a header brilliantly tipped away by Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa, while Gelson Martins - a target for Liverpool - fired just wide on the counter for Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo got a little bit of stick when he arrived with his new haircut, especially from Ricardo Queresma.

The 32-year-old Real Madrid superstar's build-up to the tournament in Russian Federation has been overshadowed after he was this week accused by prosecutors in Spain of defrauding the authorities of 14.7 million euros ($16.5m) in tax through offshore companies.

"If this is going to happen several times during a game, well it's not very pleasant for the players", Cameroon coach Hugo Broos said.

The shared points were probably a fair result.

Chicharito nodded straight at Rui Patricio with his first real chance at the other end, but Mexico's record goal scorer soon made amends and crashed a header into the bottom-right corner from Carlos Vela's cushioned center after Guerreiro failed to clear the preceding cross.

But it was Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo who handed a clue about how El Tri will approach dealing with Ronaldo and Portugal's attack.

"Cristiano talks to me and gives me advice", Silva said. "We know these days that possession of the ball is the most important thing. There is no reason to be concerned, we have to think about the next match". If Mexico is bold, seeks possession and tries to be the protagonist in line with Osorio's philosophy, it will be a fascinating encounter against a Portugal team that won Euro 2016 in large part due to its defensive spine.

Ronaldo is on the back of two major title victories, and will be looking to make it a ideal three this summer. "I'm happy to play with my captain".

The only injury issue came prior to the tournament as Jesus Corona pulled out of the squad and he was replaced by Jürgen Damm. With a team well balanced by coach Fernando Santos, Portugal outscored opponents 28-4 during that streak, with five clean sheets.

They will be led by former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, still going strong at 38 - while Ronaldo will win his 140th cap in the game, Marquez will be making his 139th global appearance. "Now we have to show on the pitch why we are being considered favorites".

"Since I joined the national team I've felt very welcomed", Silva said.



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