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Monday, May 10, 2010
Medina lifts Mexico at Soldier Field

By Charlie Corr
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- It was only a matter of time before Mexico would tally the first strike during Monday night's soccer exhibition against Senegal. El Tri was in complete control from the get-go with a far superior possession game.

In the 60th minute, Mexico finally struck as Alberto Medina's goal provided the difference en route to a 1-0 victory over Senegal in front of a sold-out crowd of 60,610 at Soldier Field.

But Mexico head coach Javier Aguirre had reason to be a bit unsatisfied with the performance. El Tri had a bunch of scoring opportunities, and Medina particularly had several other chances. The one-goal win did the trick, but Mexico clearly could have done more.

"We missed a few [opportunities] in the last third of the field," Aguirre said. "We need to look at connecting short passes. In the great leagues you only have one opportunity and you need to score it."

For two-thirds of the match, Senegal goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye did his best to keep his squad in contention. He was efficient coming off of his line to intercept a bunch of threats and had some key saves to try to silence Mexico's attack.

In the 60th minute, Ndiaye nearly replicated his previous efforts when he disrupted Andres Guardado's deep send for Medina. But in this instance the ball popped out a bit from his gloves, and Medina found the far left netting for the 1-0 Mexico lead.

Just a few minutes before that play, former Chicago Fire midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco made what nearly proved to be a picture-perfect entrance. Blanco did not get the start, but to the pleasure of the Mexican faithful in Soldier Field, he came off the bench for a shade more than half an hour.

Blanco and Medina came into the match in the 56th minute for Adolfo Bautista and Pablo Barrera, respectively. Less than 1 minute later, Blanco provided a crisp send to Medina. But Ndiaye came up with the clutch save to keep Mexico off the scoreboard.

Little did Ndiaye know that Mexico would amp up its attack and tally the first strike a few minutes later.

Mexico wholeheartedly attacked from their right side, clearly the weaker portion of the pitch from Senegal's standpoint. But Senegal managed to hold things close for a bulk of the match.

"The goal here was to challenge Mexico and help Mexico prepare for the World Cup, and I felt that the boys stood up to Mexico and gave them a good challenge," Senegal head coach Joseph Marie Koto said. "Overall, I'm satisfied with the game."

In the net, Ndiaye made seven saves. Mexico goalkeeper Oscar Perez, on the other hand, only had to make three saves.

Charlie Corr covers soccer for ESPNChicago.com.