A stoppage-time goal from substitute Javier Hernandez was enough to seal a 2-1 victory for Mexico over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Chicago on Thursday night.
The Soldier Field stadium was full as rain lashed down throughout this entertaining if unspectacular friendly.
All three goals came from players based in the English Premier League with a point to prove after not featuring as frequently as they would have liked for their club sides this season.
Tottenham Hotspur want-away Giovani Dos Santos was in fine form, scoring an early opener before Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko leveled the tie in the 29th minute.
Giovani was a constant threat playing behind striker Aldo de Nigris, with most of Mexico’s attacking play coming down the left-hand side in the first half.
As always, Giovani looked sharper playing amongst his compatriots than he has done at Tottenham, despite a lack of match practice.
Having starred semi-regularly in the Europa League and domestic cup games in the first half of the season, he has been limited to late and sporadic substitute appearances in recent Premier League games.
The former Barcelona starlet’s career may have stalled over the past four years, but the 23-year-old still has bags of potential and it took him just six minutes to get on the score sheet.
After good work from de Nigris down the left, Giovani seized on a mistake by Bosnia keeper Asmir Begovic and fired home the rebound from point-blank range.
He very nearly scored an identical goal after 26 minutes but this time it flashed just past the post.
At times he was too selfish, opting to shoot from distance or attempt an ambitious chip when other teammates were free in more promising positions.
But it was a strong performance overall, and with just one year left on his contract, Giovani seems set to finally seal a move away from White Hart Lane this summer.
His lack of match fitness eventually showed as he tired in the second half and was substituted after 60 minutes.
Dzeko was the focal point of Bosnia’s attack throughout the game and it was no surprise that the equalizer came through him.
The lanky frontman had already tested Guillermo Ochoa once with a fierce strike in the 13th minute. The Mexican defense was then caught napping as he was played through all too easily and rounded Ochoa to slot home.
Dzeko struggled to impose himself in Manchester City’s starting lineup this season, just as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez failed to consolidate his place in the first 11 at rival club Manchester United.
Having only joined up with the national team this week, Hernandez was eased back into action, replacing Giovani on the hour mark.
He appeared rusty in the 79th minute, when, with a clear sight of goal, his shot was saved and his follow-up effort blocked.
But in the third minute of stoppage time, Hernandez pounced on some comical Bosnia defending to win the game on the eve of his 24th birthday.
“I know him well, I’ve known him since he was a boy, but he’s just like any other member of the team,” said coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre after the game. “That’s why strikers are here, to score goals. It’s good for everyone.”
Mexico will now prepare for a glamour tie against Brazil, their final game before the World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign begins in June.
“I’m not thinking about Brazil on Sunday, but in the qualifiers, these are what interest me,” de la Torre affirmed.
Under 23 news
Mexico’s under-23 side took another step toward winning the friendly Toulon Tournament on Wednesday, defeating the Netherlands 4-2 in the semifinal.
Marco Fabian was on the score sheet again, netting his seventh goal in four games to equal the tournament record set by English forward Alan Shearer in 1991.
The Chivas de Guadalajara youngster has one game left to break the record: the final (Friday, 3 p.m. ET) against Turkey, who beat host-nation France 1-0 on Wednesday.
By Duncan Tucker (@DuncanTucker)
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