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Mexico's World Cup journey came to a close on Wednesday after 2-1 win against Saudi Arabia was not enough to see El Tri through to the knockout rounds for an eighth consecutive World Cup. Mexico's attack finally started to click in the final match day of the group stage with goals by Henry Martin and Luis Chavez, but Saudi Arabia snuffed the candle out on Mexico's hope with a late game stoppage time goal from Salem Aldawsari. 

The two teams entered the final group match with must win scenarios in place for the match. All four teams in Group C were alive coming into the match and while some unlikely situations might have allowed Saudi Arabia to progress with a draw, for Mexico a win was an absolute must if they wanted to catch Poland or Argentina. Mexico's struggles in front of goal all tournament boiled over in the deciding group match, and Saudi Arabia's slipping hopes of reaching the knockout rounds provided a frantic final game.

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Mexico were mainly on the front foot during the opening half of the game, but production in the final third remained a missing factor. El Tri closed out the first half with 11 total shots and three attempts on target. But the score remained 0-0. That scoreless opening 45 minutes led to even more chaos within the second half.

Early adjustments were made by both teams at halftime and Mexico's manager Tata Martino opted to bring on Uriel Antuna for Alexis Vega. The added striker allowed Mexico to keep the pressure on Saudi Arabia and an early corner kick led to an exciting breakthrough on goal in the 47th minute. 

Just five minutes later Mexico added another goal on a set piece. The moment brought to life with a free kick opportunity taken by Luis Chavez. The added goal gave Mexico a chance to advance if they were able to score a third goal. 

More set piece opportunities, scrambling bodies in the box, and a breakthrough by Edson Alvarez that was ruled offside felt like a historic moment would eventually be celebrated. Player rotation for Mexico provided  fresh legs for the team to continue a relentless pursuit of a third goal that ultimately never arrived. The missed chances left just enough time for Saudi Arabia's Salem Aldawsari to deliver the final swing of the sword, ending Mexico's pursuit of what would have been a miracle advancement. 

The game was ultimately a win for Mexico but a failure to advance. It's a stunning moment in Mexico's World Cup history as a streak of seven consecutive appearances in the knockout rounds comes to an end. The journey to "el quinto partido" -- a fifth game -- just got longer for Mexico by four more years. El Tri will appear in the 2026 World Cup as co-hosts with United States and Canada but there's a lot of work to do between now and then.