By MARK LORENZANA
Mexican winger Hirving “Chucky” Lozano saved his heroics for the last minute, scoring a late goal as the Mexican National Men’s Soccer Team overcame Peru, 1-0, in their international soccer friendly on the night of Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
Lozano, who also plays for Italian Serie A club Napoli, anticipated a César Montes header and sent the ball into the goal — and through Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s outstretched arms — with a well-timed left-footed shot in the 85th minute.
In a match that seemed to be headed for a scoreless tie in one of the last rehearsals ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, to be played in Qatar from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18, Lozano gave Mexican soccer fans something to celebrate about.
Indeed, the Rose Bowl match provided one of the last opportunities for Mexican National Team manager Gerardo Martino to test his squad ahead of the World Cup. El Tri had not been performing well in its friendlies for the past several months.
Early in the match, the Peruvian Men’s National Soccer Team had several shots at goal. Gianluca Lapadula, Christian Cueva and André Carrillo all had their opportunities to score against veteran Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, but couldn’t find the mark. Then came the last-minute Lozano goal, which officially handed the win to El Tri.
El Tri will match up against Colombia at Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday Sept. 27. The team is also scheduled to play friendlies against Iraq and Sweden on Nov. 9 and 16, respectively. Mexico joins the World Cup’s Group C, alongside Poland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia. Peru failed to qualify for the tournament after losing an intercontinental playoff against Australia in June of this year.