Stoppage-time header snatches draw for Mexico against European champion Portugal

Mexico escaped with a point against Portugal thanks to Hector Moreno (center) and his late header. (Getty)

The unlikely hero of Sunday’s Group A Confederations Cup match belonged to Portugal. At least until it belonged to Mexico.

Hector Moreno’s header in stoppage time canceled out Cedric Soares’ 86th-minute strike as Mexico swiped a point from Portugal in their 2-2 draw in Kazan.

Moreno had only scored twice in his career for the Mexican national team, but the defender fought off a mugging by Jose Fonte to snap his header toward the back post (via FOX Soccer):

A few minutes earlier, it looked like Fonte’s Southampton teammate would snare all the headlines. Soares pounced on a loose ball front of the Mexico net and ripped a shot from close range that deflected past Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa.

The shared points were probably a fair result. Portugal ceded possession for large swaths of the match but offered plenty of threat on the counter, including a sequence in the 34th minute that led to the opening goal.

Mexico’s Carlos Salcedo misjudged a long ball at midfield, and it soared over his head straight to Cristiano Ronaldo. The under-fire Real Madrid star’s clever first touch had him off and running, and although he stumbled in the box and allowed defenders to recover, he found teammate Ricardo Quaresma on the opposite side of the box.

Cool and collected, Quaresma made no mistake:


The lead lasted less than 10 minutes, when Portugal volunteered its own poor defending. Raphael Guerreiro whiffed on a ball played into the box, and instead of hitting a shot first time, Carlos Vela sent back a short cross that Javier Hernandez met with full force:


For the first time this tournament, and therefore the first time in any major international tournament, the video assistant referee system overturned a call on the pitch. A tame Ronaldo free kick bounced off the wall, and Joao Moutinho played the ball back into the mixer. In the ensuing chaos Andre Gomes slotted home a goal from the right side, but VAR buzzed the referee and revealed that no less than four Portuguese players had been offside on Moutinho’s pass:


The decision took nearly 40 seconds from the time referee Nestor Pitana blew his whistle to the time he made the call, which is surely more protracted than FIFA would hope. The system also took some time to review Soares’ goal, which won’t help the chorus of traditionalists already rallying against it.

Both Mexico and Portugal are tied for second in Group A, with Russia having gained a full three points by beating New Zealand on Saturday. The reigning CONCACAF and European champions are still favored to get out of the group, however.

It’ll just be more difficult thanks to their late heroics.

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