Ricardo La Volpe saw his 10-man Mexico side stutter and stumble their way into the last 16 after a 2-1 defeat to Portugal.
The nerves of the coach and his team appeared to be stretched to breaking point in the Schalke Arena where the roof was closed.
Two goals down to Maniche and Simao Sabrosa (pen), they fought back through Jose Fonseca - but Omar Bravo missed a penalty and then Luis Perez was sent off.
The normally-vociferous Mexican supporters were remarkably quiet given that rivals Angola were running Iran close.
Portugal rested Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco and Pauleta but still started full of invention.
Fonseca almost made the breakthrough after two minutes but his shot went straight into the body of goalkeeper Ricardo.
Portugal took the lead though in the sixth minute with a marvellous goal from Chelsea midfielder Maniche, who raced into the box and to get on the end of a Simao cross and finish emphatically.
Two minutes later Bravo almost equalised, his chip from close range going narrowly wide of the post.
Then Luis Figo was allowed room to manoeuvre in the area - but he only succeeded in sending a chip into the arms of Mexico goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
Portugal extended their lead in the 24th minute when Simao confidently converted a penalty awarded after a needless handball by Mexico captain Rafael Marquez.
Portugal were playing some wonderful flowing football and Helder Postiga saw his effort beaten away by Sanchez. Tiago latched on to the rebound but was off target.
Mexico retaliated and pulled a goal back in the 29th minute when Fonseca scored with a header which was poorly defended.
Fonseca was causing Portugal problems and saw a header 10 minutes later finish narrowly wide.
Mexico almost equalised a minute before half-time but Ricardo made a good block from Pavel Pardo, who rattled in a free-kick from distance at the start of the second half which was marginally off target.
They wasted a great chance to equalise in the 58th minute after being awarded a penalty when Miguel handled in the area - Bravo opting for power and sending his spot-kick high over the bar.
The Mexicans were becoming frustrated and Perez was sent off in the 61st minute after amassing two yellow cards.
Bravo was again wasteful two minutes later when he got into a good position but failed to trouble Ricardo.
Portugal had lost some of their sting but former Chelsea midfielder Tiago raced forward in the 67th minute, only to drag his shot wide.
Then substitute Nuno Gomez fired over the top after a cross from the right by Simao.
Portugal now go forward with confidence after three straight wins while Mexico live to fight another day.