A compacted first half for both squads, however, in the second half with Chicharito entering the game, Mexico offense would come alive and run wild on Croatia, by finally beating the Croatians 3-1.
Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
RECIFE: Hernández entered a scoreless draw at 62 minute on Monday, he would set up one goal and score another goal to help defeat Croatia, and also find his rhythm that got him to Manchester United four years ago in South Africa.
“This whole year has been very tough,” Chicharito told FIFA.com. “Players need confidence more than anything else, and I’ve been very short of it. Very few people have shown faith in me over this past year.”
In the first half, the Mexican offense produced a few chances but in the end their offense seemed stuck. Their midfield did most of the work as their forward Oribe Peralta seemed lost and overwhelmed by the constant pressure from the Croatian defense.
At the second half, it was starting to look the same for Mexico until the Coach Miguel Herrera brought Chicharito into the game, the minute the Manchester United forward entered the game, the offense begin to open up and the Croatian defense started to open up as well.
Ten minutes after entering the game, El Tri would get on the scoreboard. Captain Rafael Márquez would score with a powerful lower header that squeezed right under the body of Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. A well placed corner from midfielder Héctor Herrera would set up Márquez header at the 72 minute.
After that goal the flood gates opened, as the Mexicans scored three goals in a span of 10 minutes. The first one would come at the 72 minute, at the second came at the 75 minute.
The Manchester United striker would receive the ball at the midfield mark from Peralta. Chicharito would dribble towards the goal, holding the ball with four Croatian players ahead of him. He was holding the ball to let the rest of the Mexican players catch up in the attack. While still holding the ball he kept pushing forward and got right at the edge of the penalty box when he passed the ball back to Peralta who was standing parallel to his right.
Peralta with time and space sent in a low and fast cross to a cutting Andrés Guardado, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder revived the ball at the heart of the penalty box, and blasted the ball into the roof of the net to give Mexico a stable 2-0 lead.
With the Mexicans now up two goals, the Croatian were attempting to create anything since their second round lives were diminishing fast. A victory is was the Eastern European country needed to advance to the next round, but now down by two goals that seemed very unlikely to happen.
With Croatia attacking their defense was left vulnerable to counters, the Mexican would get another corner at the 82 minute of the game. One out of their nine corner kick they had against Croatia on Monday. A beautiful kicked corner from Guardado, went to the head of the Captain.
Márquez then flicked the ball towards the left post, the Croatian players were standing still thinking that the ball was going sail out of bounds. When all of sudden Chicharito appeared and headed the ball into the back of the net to give Mexico a 3-0 lead with six minutes left in the match.
He ran and celebrated and got his knees and appeared to finally break through his goalless streak that did not only affect with Mexico, but also for his club.
“I just enjoy playing football, I love having fun on the field,” the Manchester United striker told FIFA.com after the match. “I’ve had games where a lot of people said I played really well, even without having a single shot on goal. That’s one of the nice things about football, it’s not only about scoring goals. Of course they’re important, but when you’re a footballer you also need to work with your team-mates and put them first.”
Croatia would score when Ivan Persici would strike the ball into bottom right hand corner of the net at the 87 minute. But it would prove to be harmless for the Mexicans as they would still win 3-1.
The Mexican players were celebrating after the match ended, but The Mexican captain wants his player to remain focus for their next game against the Netherlands on Sunday, 29 at Fortaleza. In the single game elimination of the start of the round of 16.
“The Netherlands are a great side,” Márquez told FIFA,com. “After such a tight game we need to recover now. We had to fight hard but we performed as a team once again.”
To watch the highlights of this game click on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1907253, video provided by ESPN FC.