Andres Guardado 9/10 as Mexico wrap up 1-0 friendly win in Poland
In a friendly that appeared more like a training session, Mexico coasted to a straightforward 1-0 win over Poland on Monday. Following an early goal from Raul Jimenez in the 13th minute, El Tri had no problems against a surprisingly conservative opposition at the Gdansk Arena.
With the victory in hand and an eye-catching 3-3 draw with Belgium last Friday, Mexico fans should be thrilled about this trip to Europe.
Although both sides fielded numerous backups, Mexico was able to gain an impressive win against the sixth-ranked team in the world. Coupled with the fact that El Tri was playing in an intimidating atmosphere, there's no overlooking the importance of the friendly victory.
On the field, manager Juan Carlos Osorio should be more than happy with the confidence and poise of fringe players such as Jonathan dos Santos, Raul Jimenez, Hugo Ayala and Jose de Jesus Corona.
The debut of 21-year-old Omar Govea was also worth noting. Govea, who instantly clicked with the team, potentially adds another layer of depth to the squad.
It's tough to find many negatives from the win. That said, it's fair to question the lack of further goal-scoring opportunities. Mexico was clearly the better side but also finished with only two shots on target over the entire match.
Manager rating (out of 10)
9 -- Osorio's many detractors will have a difficult time finding fault with this result. The manager's high-pressing 5-3-2 worked brilliantly against a Poland side that struggled to hold on to possession. After halftime, tactical changes and a large of number of substitutions did little to alter El Tri's dominance in the away game.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jose de Jesus Corona, 7 -- Corona had the best seat in the house for Mexico's win. The goalkeeper rarely needed to do much but stepped up on the few occasions that Poland tested his net.
DF Miguel Layun, 7 -- As expected from the right wing-back, Layun covered plenty of ground with his risk-taking runs. In attack, the Porto player was a crucial source of crosses.
DF Carlos Salcedo, 6 -- Salcedo was involved in most of the rare moments in which Poland caught El Tri's defense off-guard. The 24-year-old still has plenty to prove if he wants to hold on to his starting role.
DF Hugo Ayala, 7 -- A decent performance from the veteran who did an excellent job of controlling possession. Defensively, Ayala was noteworthy for imposing himself against the hosts' attack.
DF Hector Moreno, 8 -- After a disappointing game against Belgium, Moreno stepped up as the best player in defense. The 29-year-old was superb not only with his distribution out from the back but also with his long passes going forward.
DF Jesus Gallardo, 7 -- Despite the fact that Gallardo wasn't as threatening in the attack as he should have been, the left wing-back should be applauded for his aerial game that helped Mexico steal back the ball.
MF Jonathan dos Santos, 8 -- Dos Santos was the most active player in the game. The midfielder stifled Poland in the center of the pitch, helped kick-start a number of plays and made dangerous runs in attack.
MF Diego Reyes, 5 -- Is Reyes the defensive midfielder Mexico needs? On Monday, the Porto player once again looked a step or two behind everyone else on the field.
MF Andres Guardado, 9 -- El Tri's captain was the focal point in the starting XI. Guardado was near-perfect with his off-the-ball runs that provided every player an open man to receive a pass. Like Dos Santos, Guardado was the motor of the team with his coverage and distribution.
FW Javier Aquino, 7 -- In somewhat of an unfamiliar role as the second striker, Aquino should be given credit for helping create the lone goal in the first half. The winger is another intriguing option for Osorio to consider going forward.
FW Raul Jimenez, 8 -- Jimenez wasted no time Monday. After just 13 minutes, the striker rocketed a shot into the back of Poland's net. Following the goal, Jimenez helped control possession while occasionally dropping deep into the midfield.
FW Oribe Peralta, 6 -- Was substituted on at halftime for Jimenez. The 33-year-old fought hard to score off a couple of opportunities but couldn't find the back of the net.
FW Hirving Lozano, 6 -- Was substituted on at halftime for Aquino. A quiet 45 minutes from the rising star who didn't see very much of the ball.
DF Cesar Montes, 7 -- Was substituted on at halftime for Ayala. With plenty of pressure to protect Mexico's lead, Montes did well to take charge of the backline. For whatever reason, he also played as a striker near the end.
DF Nestor Araujo, 7 -- Was substituted on at halftime for Salcedo. Similar to Montes, Araujo stepped up and kept Poland scoreless in the friendly clash with his defensive interventions.
FW Carlos Vela, 7 -- Was substituted on after 63 minutes for Moreno. Vela showed flashes of brilliance with his quick turns and creative playmaking.
MF Omar Govea, NR -- Was substituted on after 74 minutes for Dos Santos.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.