Goals from Jesus Zavala and Hector Moreno helped Mexico to a 2-1 victory in a physical encounter with El Salvador on Tuesday.
Despite being kept awake by hundreds of Salvadoran fans who raised a racket all night outside their team hotel, Mexico’s players were awake enough to grind out an important away victory in the qualification campaign for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
San Salvador is a tough place to come, and although it was not a pretty performance, this was Mexico’s first win there since 1997.
Mexico’s players not only had to endure strong challenges from their opponents, who pressed relentlessly in the goalless first-half, but also bottles hurled from the hostile crowd in Cuscatlan stadium.
Pablo Barrera missed the best chance of the opening period in which neither he nor Andre Guardado on the opposite wing put in their best performances.
Monterrey midfielder Zavala put Mexico ahead on the hour mark, converting “Maza” Rodriguez’s defence splitting pass to claim his first international goal, but the hosts equalized from a set piece just four minutes later.
Jose de Jesus Corona should have had Alfredo Pacheco’s free kick covered and the mistake means questions will be raised over Jose Manuel de la Torre’s team selection, as Guillermo Ochoa again watched proceedings from the bench.
With nine minutes remaining Mexico reclaimed the lead thanks to Hector Moreno and a generous slice of luck.
Rodriguez appeared to flick a set piece onto the Espanyol defender, meaning he should have been flagged offside when his header was saved by goalkeeper Benji Villalobos.
The ball then rebounded back onto Moreno’s head and into the goal, sealing the three points for Mexico.
The result leaves El Tri top of its group with six points from its first two qualifiers. Having won five games in a row, Mexico will now take a break ahead of August’s friendly against the U.S.A. in the Azteca Stadium.
By Duncan Tucker (@DuncanTucker)
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