Backed by a pro-Mexico crowd of 67,311 at Levi's Stadium, El Tri initially made an instant impact with a goal from Alexis Vega off a penalty in the 6th minute. Mexico continued their pressure going, with Vega creating a quick and clever play for Gerardo Arteaga, who scored to put Mexico up 2-0 by the 29th minute.
Immediately after halftime, the South Americans -- who failed to qualify for the World Cup -- equalized the game on goals from Luis Sinisterra in the 49th minute and 52nd minute. Then, in the 68th, Wilmar Barrios knocked in a golazo to give Colombia the game winner.
Following a previous 1-0 victory over Peru last Saturday, Mexico -- missing several star players due to injuries -- finish up this round of pre-World Cup preparation on a sour note. They'll have two November friendlies -- against Iraq and Sweden -- before their Group C opener against Poland on Nov. 22 in Qatar.
1. Ugly night for Mexico and Martino, on field and off
It took just minutes after halftime for Mexico manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino and his roster to be overwhelmed by Colombia.
Confidence was high with a 2-0 lead after the break, but Mexico's inexperienced fullbacks Gerardo Arteaga (despite his first-half goal) and Kevin Alvarez left space on the flanks and were exposed by Colombia's attackers, which saw Luis Sinisterra to bag a brace in a span of three minutes.
Martino's alterations didn't seem to have much effect as he chose inopportune moments to substitute players. Colombia had no trouble claiming a third goal thanks to Wilmar Barrios and winning the ball back in crucial areas, frustrating Mexico as the match made its way to the 3-2 result. Tactically outmaneuvered, it was one of the more dismal ends to a game for Martino.
Off the field, things were even worse for Mexico. While fights broke out in the stands, so did the anti-gay goalkeeper chant that was loudly heard at least three times late into the second half, leading at one point to the game being paused by officiating.
2. Tale of two halves for Mexico
There was plenty of good and bad on display for Mexico. Let's start with the good. In the first stages of the game, El Tri's frontline was dynamic with Alexis Vega and Uriel Antuna leading the way through quick passes in the final third. Alongside them up top, striker Henry Martin worked flawlessly with the frontline.
It was, for the first time in months, genuinely fun to watch them fluidly move the ball with creativity in the final third. In the midfield, Mexico also held strong and shut down a number of counters and crosses that Colombia tried to throw at them.
And then the second half started.
Pouncing on El Tri's inexperienced fullbacks, Colombia chased space down the flanks and quickly overran Mexico's defense. Alvarez and Arteaga looked lost as they were chasing balls, with little help from central defenders Hector Moreno and Nestor Araujo.
As mentioned earlier, Martino's changes were questionable and ineffective, almost seeming to throw the kitchen sink onto the pitch instead of creating a more cohesive gameplan. There was a sense of chaos on the field for Mexico, desperate to score but not having connected lines or enough morale to get the job done.
3. Future is bright for Colombia
Even though Colombia may not be going to the World Cup, there was plenty of big-game experience in Nestor Lorenzo's starting XI, including key veterans Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, and David Ospina.
But undoubtedly the unexpected hero of the night was Luis Sinisterra -- who needed seven minutes to score twice after stepping on at halftime. The 23-year-old Leeds United forward sparked the comeback with a towering header, followed by a shot that took a fortunate bounce off a defender and past Guillermo Ochoa.
Lorenzo worked as an assistant in three World Cups -- 2006 for Argentina and 2014 and 2018 for Colombia -- and was hired in June to get Colombia back in contention for a spot at the 2026 World Cup. With young talent like Sinisterra and Luis Diaz on the rise, he already seems ahead of schedule.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa 5, Kevin Alvarez 4, Nestor Araujo 4, Hector Moreno 5, Gerardo Arteaga 5, Erick Gutierrez 6, Andres Guardado 5, Carlos Rodriguez 6, Alexis Vega 8, Henry Martin 7, Uriel Antuna 7.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Luis Sinisterra, Colombia.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the 23-year-old stepped up to find the back of the net twice within four minutes. A future star for both Colombia and Leeds United.
WORST: Kevin Alvarez, Mexico.
It might be unfair to criticize the promising 23-year-old who had to deal with a world-class attacking player like Juan Cuadrado, but Alvarez was by far the weak link. He has plenty of potential but a starting role might not be the right move for him yet.
Highlights and notable moments
There were some great goals tonight, but Barrios' was the icing on the cake with his incredible effort from outside of the box.
🔥⚽🇨🇴 ¡Gooool de @FCFSeleccionCol!— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) September 28, 2022
🔥⚽🇨🇴 ¡Gooool de @FCFSeleccionCol!
🔥⚽🇨🇴 ¡Gooool de @FCFSeleccionCol!
Golazo fantástico de Wilmar Barrios 😍😍😍
🔴 ¡EN VIVO! https://t.co/tijoca5zR7
📲🔗 TUDN, @univision, https://t.co/T8lpgqtF3M, app #CaminoAQatar pic.twitter.com/jlHARkfyB5
After the match:
Mexico captain Andres Guardado to TUDN after the loss: "Better that it happens to us now, we're learning ...This serves us as a lesson for the World Cup so we can arrive better prepared."
Mexico coach Gerardo Martino on Colombia's talent: "There are moments in a match when the hierarchy and quality of the rival players will be shown on the pitch. It is in these moments that we have to learn to endure and know how to carry through."
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
- A notable achievement for Mexico captain Andres Guardado, whose 177 caps ties him with Claudio Suarez for most ever in an El Tri jersey.
- History repeated itself on Tuesday. The last time Mexico lost a game in which it led by two goals was on Jan. 31, 2001... that was a 3-2 loss to Colombia.
- Things are looking bright for Nestor Lorenzo's side. Colombia have won five straight matches for first time since 2019.
Mexico: Two friendlies in the Spanish town of Girona are scheduled in November, against Iraq on Nov. 9 and Sweden on Nov. 16. Then it's the big show: World Cup group stage action against Poland (Nov. 22), Saudi Arabia (Nov. 26), and Argentina (Nov. 30).
Colombia: No upcoming matches are scheduled.