mexiiicccoo059600000578-406_634x402Mexico took a big step towards Brazil 2014 with a 5-1 first-leg victory over New Zealand in their FIFA World Cup intercontinental play-off.

First-half strikes from Paul Aguilar and Raul Jimenez put the host in control, with Oribe Peralta’s double and Rafael Marquez’s effort extending its advantage after the interval.

New Zealand battled hard to stay in the game and added a late consolation through Chris James at the Estadio Azteca but the host, which enjoyed 75 per cent of the possession, will take a healthy advantage into next Wednesday’s second leg in Wellington.

Coach Miguel Herrera’s decision to select home-based players only meant there were seven changes for Mexico from the side beaten by Costa Rica in its final qualifier. The visitors made three changes from its goalless draw with Trinidad and Tobago in October, with Leicester City striker Chris Wood chosen to lead the attack.

marquezF00000578-250_634x423Mexico started well and thought it had scored in the 18th minute when Jimenez hooked a shot towards goal, only for Glen Moss to punch clear on the line.

Moss continued to thwart Mexico’s attacks with saves from Francisco Rodriguez and Jimenez, but he was at fault for the opening goal in the 32nd minute.The goalkeeper failed to claim a cross from the right, and in the confusion Aguilar pounced on the loose ball to score his third international goal.

Mexico doubled its lead five minutes before the break when Jimenez found the back of the net with a close-range header. Peralta capped a flowing counter-attack to increase the advantage in the 48th minute. Miguel Layun raced clear down the left and rolled a low cross to Peralta and he slid in to tap home.

Peralta doubled his tally with a powerful header from a Layun cross with 10 minutes to play, and Marquez seemingly wrapped the tie up three minutes later with a simple headed finish.

The All Whites had some cause for cheer, though, as James netted an acrobatic volley from a Rory Fallon knock-down with five minutes left.

Adeyemi Adesanya

Sports Business Consultant and Football Intermediary; Risk Management & Due Diligence Consultant; Freelance Football writer & Pundit on Radio & TV and Man.Utd Fan


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