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World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: El Matador saves Mexico

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Luis Hernandez’s stoppage time stunner.

By beating South Korea and tying Belgium in their first two group stage games at France ‘98, Mexico appeared well-positioned to progress to the knockout rounds.

Still, advancing was not guaranteed. And with the Netherlands looming in their final first-round match, the nerves of El Tri fans were, understandably, frayed.

They stayed that way until almost the last kick of the ball. Mexico was losing 2-1 to the Dutch as the contest entered stoppage time. In the other Group E finale being played simultaneously, the Koreans and Belgians were tied. If El Tri lost and Belgium managed to score a late winner, they’d advance at Mexico’s expense.

Luis Hernandez wasn’t about to leave anything to chance. Instead of relying on another result, the striker known as “El Matador” pounced on a botched clearance in the box by Dutch center back Jaap Stam and stabbed the ball into the net. The goal pulled Mexico level in the 94th minute. When the final whistle blew moments later, El Tri was en route to the round of 16.

One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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