A dominant first quarter of the match secured Mexico the bronze medal, goals from Sebastian Cordova and Johan Vasquez putting them in a near-unassailable position before a tremendous second-half header from Alexis Vega sealed the deal. The hosts will be disappointed with how they started, but ultimately were undone by a better team playing better.
From the off, Mexico were all over Japan, their pressing and passing pinning their opponents back. And, on 11 minutes, Wataru Endo fouled Alexis Vega thinking he was just outside the box, but Vega’s clever movement meant he was on the line when contact came. The ref pointed to the spot and Cordova converted the penalty with nonchalant ease. Then, on 22 minutes, Cordova’s terrific free-kick picked out Vasquez, who stooped to administer a fine header, and at 2-0 the game looked as good as over.
Mexico could have scored a few more immediately after the break but could only add one more as Japan battled hard to get back into the game. And eventually they did, Kaoru Mitoma coming off the bench and making a strong impression, capped by a beautiful goal on 78 minutes. But it was too little, too late, and though Japan created enough chances to force extra time, their finishing needed to be perfect and was not, allowing Mexico take their well-deserved place on the podium.
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TALKING POINT

Third-place playoffs are often dreadful, both sides recovering physically and mentally from the disappointment of not taking the final. But the players of Mexico and Japan delivered a terrific match, the best of the Games in either men’s or women’s football, and though the hosts were devastated to lose, they can be proud of the way they performed.

Ultimately, Japan paid the price for a slow start; Mexico set the tone of the game by imposing themselves immediately and, crucially, taking their chances. Japan looked a decent team once they got going, but they were three goals down by then, and though they created enough chances to force extra-time, at least, they were always chasing and Mexico always looked to have another gear should they need it.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Sebastian Cordova (Mexico) Scored his team's first goal, created their second and third with terrific dead-ball delivery.

PLAYER RATINGS

Mexico: Ochoa 8, Sanchez 6, Vasquez 7, Angulo 7, Montes 7, Romo 6, Cordova 8, Rodriguez 8, Lainez 7, Martin 6, Vega 7. Subs: Antuna 6, Beltran 6, Alvarado 6, Esquivel 6, Aguirre 6.
Japan: Tani 6, Sakai 6, Tomiyasu 6, Yoshida 6, Nakayama 7, Kubo 5, Endo 4, Soma 5, Tanaka 6, Doan 6, Hayashi 6. Subs: Hatate 6, Ueda 7, Mitma 8, Itakura 6, Miyoshi 6.

KEY MOMENTS

11' - Vega picks and bundles past Endo on the left, right by the corner of the box, and flings himself into the box right as Endo administers the foul ... AND THAT'S A PENALTY! That's brilliant from Vega because Endo was sure he'd only concede a free-kick, but the power and dynamism of the dive got him what he was after.

13' - GOAL! Mexico 1-0 Japan (Cordova pen)
Tani dives right and the left-footed Cordova opens his body to roll the other way. Japan are in trouble because Mexico can now keep the ball and wait for openings.

22' - GOAL! Mexico 2-0 Japan (Vasquez)
Redemption! Sent off against Japan in the group stages, the Mexico skipper steals away from poor old Endo to reach Cordova's terrific cross and plant a fine stooping header across Tani and into the side-netting! Mexico are on absolute flames!
58' - GOAL! Mexico 3-0 Japan (Vega)
Another terrific delivery into the box from Cordova, swinging his corner out, but what a header this is from Vega, moving away form the ball to power a glance inside the near post from 12 yards. Though he was a fair way out, Tani got nowhere near it! Mexico are going to win the bronze!

78' - GOAL! Mexico 3-1 Japan (Mitoma)
Mitoma has been excellent since coming on and he scores an absolute jazzer! Taking the ball outside the box, left of centre, he feints to shoot then dips away from two defenders, bursting in on goal before hammering a rising shot high into the net from a tightish angle! Do we got ourselves a ball-game?

88' - Kubo's kick is first delayed - we're getting some late needle and there's some shoving inside the box - then Kubo fools everyone, laying back for Hatate, who's in galaxies of space! And he connects beautifully! Are we getting a finish?! No! His shot rockets just wide, and that is surely it for the hosts!
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