Mexico seal Last 16 place

by | Jun 23, 2014 21:59

Mexico produced an excellent second half display to see off the challenge of Croatia and advance to the World Cup Last 16.

In what was a tense encounter in Recife for long stages, goals by Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez rendered Ivan Perisic's late consolation meaningless.

Mexico produced an excellent second half display to see off the challenge of Croatia and advance to the World Cup Last 16.

In what was a tense encounter in Recife for long stages, goals by Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez rendered Ivan Perisic's late consolation meaningless.

The Europeans, who started the evening in third place in Group A, knew they were highly likely to have to win the match in order to progress to the Last 16.

A point for the North Americans would be enough to secure their own place in the next round but defeat would almost certainly mean elimination.

Perisic sliced wide for Croatia as, despite their superior possession, they found it difficult to break down their opponents during the first half.

Mexico, who were still yet to concede a World Cup 2014 goal, went closest when Hector Herrera smashed a 25-yard shot off the crossbar. Oribe Peralta also ran through but slipped at the decisive moment.

The pattern of play continued into the second half but the Mexicans had huge claims for a penalty waved away on 65 minutes. Andres Guardado’s goalbound effort was clearly handled by Darijo Srna, but referee Ravsham Irmatov waved play on. It looked a definite spot kick.

For all of Mexico’s disappointment, the incident signalled a turning point in the match. Miguel Herrera’s team looked more assured going forward from then on and they were ahead soon after.

Hector Herrera’s corner was headed in by skipper Marquez, sending the mass of green behind the goal into raptures.

Minutes later, it was double delight for Mexico as they added a second. A swift counter attack ended with Guardado firing into the top left hand corner to all but seal his side’s progress to the Last 16.

Unbelievably, it got even better for Herrera’s team. Substitute Javier Hernandez nodded home from barely a yard out to give the scoreline, for long stages so close, a one-sided look.

Perisic pulled a goal back for Niko Kovac’s team three minutes from time from Ivan Rakitic’s excellent pass, but their muted celebrations said it all.

Croatia were beaten and out. Mexico however are through and will face Holland in the next round.

Croatia 1 – 3 Mexico

Marquez 72 (M), Guardado 75 (M), Hernandez 82 (M), Perisic 87 (C)

Croatia:Pletikosa, Vrsaljko (Kovacic 58), Pranjic (Jelavic 74), Perisic, Corluka, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric, Srna, Mandzukic, Olic (Rebic 69)

Mexico: Ochoa, Rodriguez, Marquez, Herrera, Layun, Dos Santos (Hernandez 62), Moreno, Guardado (Fabian 84), Peralta (Pena 79), Aguilar, Vazquez

Referee: Ravsham Irmatov (Uzbekistan)

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