Javier's 50th goal for Mexico
Mexico built on the momentum from their stunning victory over world champions Germany by overpowering South Korea 2-1 on Saturday to take a giant step towards the World Cup last 16.
- Published 24.06.18
Rostov-on-Don: Mexico built on the momentum from their stunning victory over world champions Germany by overpowering South Korea 2-1 on Saturday to take a giant step towards the World Cup last 16.
Carlos Vela put them ahead from the penalty spot in the 26th minute at Rostov Arena, which had been taken over by Mexico's sea of passionate supporters.
All-time top scorer Javier Hernandez sealed victory in the second half, finishing off an unstoppable move from breakout player Hirving Lozano. It was Hernandez's 50th goal for his country and his fourth strike at a World Cup, taking him level with Luis Hernandez as Mexico's leading scorer in soccer's global showpiece tournament.
South Korea's talismanic forward Son Heung-min struck a scorching consolation goal in stoppage time from outside the area.
"We came to Russia with a lot of criticism, but we're working hard and have a lot of talent. We have humility, but we beat Germany and South Korea, and now we have to play against Sweden and stay cool and calm," Hernandez said.
"We cannot afford to get caught up in all these. We have to continue our job and stay humble. Of course, we should enjoy this, but tomorrow we start working again."
As the game kicked off, Mexico fans sang "We are the home team" and with green shirts dotted all over the stadium and rousing chants of "Ole!" bellowing around the arena every time their side passed the ball, it was really hard to disagree.
Conditioned by the dry heat that has been a feature of every game at the Rostov Arena, Mexico did not quite have the same thrust and energy as against Germany, although they still controlled most of the play and looked far more dangerous.
South Korea improved on their opening defeat to Sweden, although their main tactic consisted of searching for Son with long balls behind the defensive line. The closest they came to scoring in the first half was with a header from a corner which Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa tipped over the bar.
Mexico's breakthrough came when captain Andres Guardado's cross was blocked by a stray arm from Korean defender Jang Hyun-soo, and Vela kept his nerve from the spot, sending goalkeeper Cho Hyeon-woo the wrong way and stroking the ball home.
Lozano proved a constant threat to the Koreans whenever he came darting down either wing, blasting over in the first half and later having a goal-bound shot blocked by opposing captain Ki Sung-yueng.
His remarkable pace punished South Korea, catching them out on the break, allowing Hernandez to finish them off, beating a defender with a left-footed flick and tucking the ball into the net with a right footer.
Coach Juan Carlos Osorio, meanwhile, urged action against repetitive fouling after Mexico were on the receiving end of 24 fouls on Saturday.
"Usually, I don't like to talk about referees, but there was something I didn't like and that were the 24 fouls against us," said Osorio, whose own team committed seven fouls in this game.
"It's very easy to analyse who committed them. For the good of the game, I hope they take the necessary precautions and measures."
South Korea were shown the yellow card on four occasions.
Osorio, however, said it was important for his side not to get carried away by the euphoria of winning back-to-back matches.