2020 International Friendly
  • Raúl Jiménez (63')
  • Hirving Lozano (68')

Mexico beat Japan with goals from Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano

Mexico players celebrate after scoring a goal against Japan in a friendly. Getty Images

Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano scored a goal apiece as Mexico overcame a difficult first half to defeat Japan 2-0 on Tuesday, in El Tri's final game of 2020.

Japan had been the better side in the first half in Graz, Austria, with Guillermo Ochoa making two important saves to keep the scores level going into the break.

- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

Mexico coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino brought off Jesus Gallardo and Carlos Rodriguez for Luis Rodriguez and Edson Alvarez at half-time, injecting more defensive balance to the Mexican side.

"It was the worst first half since I arrived, in general terms," said Martino in a video conference following the game. "I think the first 20 or 25 minutes, we turned up late and distributed the ball poorly, but in the last 15 minutes we managed to neutralize the opponent, even if we didn't create.

Wolves striker Jimenez touched the ball only nine times in the first half, but was on hand to score from a tight angle with the outside of his right foot in the 63rd minute to give Mexico the lead.

Mexico extended its lead five minutes later when substitute Henry Martin split the Japanese defense with a through ball that Lozano latched onto and finished past keeper Daniel Schmidt.

The first 45 minutes firmly belonged to Japan, who stopped Mexico from having a single shot on target, while causing problems at the other end.

Ochoa made an outstanding save in the 12th, stretching out his left arm to tip Genki Haraguchi's long-range shot over the crossbar.

The Mexican captain was forced into a double save three minutes later, as he smothered Musashi Suzuki's effort from inside the box and also stopped Junya Ito's follow-up.

"Normally in this cycle it has been Guillermo Ochoa as the starter, but he has good competition," stated Martino. "It's clear that over these last two years, he's been a difference-maker."

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu left Liverpool's Takumi Minamino on the bench until the 57th, with Valencia's Takefusa Kubo not seeing the field.

Mexico defeated Korea Republic 3-2 last Saturday, meaning Martino's record with the Mexican national team after almost two years in charge is now 19 wins from 22 games, with only one defeat.