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Guardado, Moreno can leave Champions League with heads high

Andres Guardado and Hector Moreno are out of the Champions League, but the Mexicans did all they could to stay in.

Their efforts were nearly enough, but PSV fell to Atletico Madrid in a shootout Tuesday and exits the competition at the Round of 16 stage. The success each has found with PSV, not just Tuesday but also weekly, speaks to both the class the players have and the good fit they've found in Eindhoven.

It was a closely contested match, with PSV carrying out manager Phillip Cocu's plan and keeping Atleti off the board. The Dutch side couldn't find a goal of its own, though, and lost 8-7 in the penalty shootout.

"The toughest thing is when you feel so close to passage and you don't get it at the end," Guardado told reporters after the match. "You feel a deep let-down, but at the same time we go out very proud. We tried to go through until the end."

Guardado and Moreno both were excellent and can hold their heads high while exiting the tournament. Moreno finished the day with four interceptions, four tackles and nine clearances and also completed 54 passes (good for an 83% mark) as he held down the center of PSV's five-man defensive setup.

The midfielder had more passes miss their mark, but still finished with an impressive 81.3% number, completing 75 total passes, 20 more than the next PSV player. Four of those were key passes (the final pass leading to an opportunity on goal). He also chipped in with four tackles.

They also both converted their attempts from the spot.

Moreno and Guardado both have been linked with, and in Guardado's case played for, bigger clubs. But the love the team's fans have shown for each and the chance to be major contributors at a Champions League team has kept them in the Netherlands for now. Both are in the prime years of their career - Moreno is 28, Guardado 29 - and seem happy to play them out in the Eredivisie. And why not? Guardado is the captain of the club, Moreno is one of the first names on the team sheet. Perhaps a move could be coming, as both players could represent a side on the level of the Atletico one they troubled in this series. But there's also plenty to be said for stability and happiness.

If the PSV duo stays healthy, both players will be enormously helpful for Mexico at the Copa America Centenario this summer, a tournament in which the FMF expects a top-three finish. Moreno brings experience to the middle of the back line that will be welcome, especially if he's next to up-and-comer Diego Reyes. Guardado, well, Guardado showed he could do it all in the Gold Cup. There's no reason to think this summer will be any different.

"It's a very important and special tournament, because it's the first time it is being played outside South American and the first time both American confederations are involved. Now it really is a true Copa America. Hopefully we can show that we're on the same level as the best in America."

After their UEFA Champions League performances, Guardado and Moreno already have.