- Everton strike ends Pachuca’s hopes of making Club World Cup final
- Los Tuzos go to extra time for the second match in succession
- Third place would be their best ever finish in the competition
Pachuca have just 91 hours in which to refocus, 91 hours in which to recover from the disappointment of losing to Gremio – thus missing out on the chance to become the first Mexican side to reach a FIFA Club World Cup final – and turn their attention to the match for third place. Should they win it, they would improve on their best-ever tournament finish of fourth in 2008.
The lost look on Tuzo coach Diego Alonso’s face in the wake of the 1-0 defeat to Gremio said it all: his side had come close, but not close enough.
“We probably had the clearest chances during normal time, but that’s football,” said Jorge Hernandez in conversation with FIFA.com, his head held high.
The midfielder had reasons to be proud of his efforts in Al Ain, playing an instrumental part in cutting the supply lines between Luan and the rest of the Gremio line-up, restricting the Brazilian side’s star man to a single goalscoring opportunity. The outstanding Hernandez won possession time and again for his side and worked tirelessly with Keisuke Honda to set up Pachuca’s counter-attacks.
The lowdown on Burrito Hernandez
- Born in San Luis de Potosi, Mexico, in 1989.
- Played for Jaguares before moving to Los Tuzos in 2012.
- One of the club’s vice-captains, Hernandez has spent more time with Pachuca than any other member of the squad at UAE 2017.
- He made his Mexico debut in 2012 but then fell out favour. He was rewarded for his fine recent form when Juan Carlos Osorio named him in the pre-tournament squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.
“Just because Gremio are Copa Libertadores champions doesn’t mean to say that they’re better than us,” said the man they call El Burrito. “We knew we were a great team. We’ve always believed that.”
Pachuca have proved that in the UAE, refusing to give up. Though not at their fluid best in their opening match against Wydad Athletic Club, they showed just how well they can perform against Gremio, a match they went into as underdogs.
“Our first match didn’t go how we wanted and yet we came away with a positive result,” added Hernandez. “And though we lost this game, it felt very different to come off the pitch having shown the commitment we did and with these players.”
As he went on to explain, Pachuca have plenty to be pleased about as they train their sights on a new goal: “It’s a bittersweet feeling because we showed character and a lot of personality on the pitch.”
The Mexicans are now waiting to see who they will face in the battle for third: host club Al Jazira or the mighty Real Madrid. “Whoever we play, we’ll just have to give our all,” said the midfielder.
The countdown to Saturday’s match has begun, and so has the process of switching to a fresh objective: “The team’s going to fight hard for third place, no question.”
Mexican sides at the Club World Cup
- Aside from Los Tuzos, five other Mexican clubs have appeared at the tournament.
- Only two of them have ever made the top three, however: Necaxa, who beat Real Madrid on penalties in the match for third place in 2000; and Monterrey, who saw off Egypt’s Al Ahly 2-0 at the same stage of the 2012 competition.
- This is the third time in the last five years that a Mexican side has contested the match for third place, with defeats coming their way on the previous two occasions: America lost to Atletico Nacional in 2016, while Cruz Azul went down to Auckland in 2014.