Despite two disallowed goals and heavy rainfall, Mexico defeated Cameroon in Natal 1-0 to collect three points in their first group match of the 2014 World Cup. Behind a strong goalkeeping performance from Guillermo Ochoa, El Tri were able to keep a clean sheet and gain a much needed three points in a group with host country Brazil as well as Croatia and Cameroon. Both disallowed goals came in the first half from Giovani dos Santos and did not count for Mexico as the goal-scorers were controversially found to be offside.
Mexico began the match looking very confident in a 3-5-2 formation, with some good touches and lots of possessions. Going forward El Tri were very well organized using the flanks well thanks to the deep runs of the wing-backs. They however were not rewarded for their efforts until the second half with a goal scored by Oribe Peralta. Cameroon’s goal keeper, Charles Itadje made an incredible save when dos Santos shot on goal but the rebound cost him a goal as Peralta knocked it in during the 61st minute.
Miguel Herrera’s back five was extremely successful and, for the most part, were able to keep Cameroon from penetrating the final third. They survived the a scare in the 24th minute and were never seriously threatened again. Mexico’s continued pressure eventually led Peralta’s goal allowing Mexico to defeat an African team for the first time in the nation’s World Cup history.
The goal came in the nick of time as frustrated Mexican fans were calling for Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to be brought into the game almost the moment the second half began. The fans got their wish in the 73rd minute when Hernandez was substituted for Peralta and was met with cheers by the nearly 20,000 Mexican fans in attendance for the game.
Hernandez missed a golden scoring opportunity when he rushed a shot in extra time after a cross came from Miguel Layun sending the ball soaring over the top post.
Overall Mexico played well and played with consistency, something they were missing in qualifiers and seem to have found in newest manager Herrera. Their renewed charge for the World Cup is possibly due to Herrera stating that he though El Tri could win the whole tournament. Either way Mexico needs to continue with this level of game-play as they face a tough group with Brazil being their next opponent.