Oribe Peralta scored a hat-trick as Mexico defeated New Zealand 4-2 on Wednesday to book the second last ticket for the 2014 World Cup.
Peralta was already on target twice in Mexico’s 5-1 first leg win in the play-off at home last week, and he ended any remaining doubts about the outcome with his strikes in the 14th, 29th and 33rd minute in Wellington.
New Zealand saved face from Chris James in the 80th and Rory Fallon two minutes later before Carlos Pena was on target for the final scoreline and a 9-3 aggregate victory for the Olympic champions.
“It was a long road, but the dream is fulfilled,” Parelta said after a difficult qualifying campaign for Mexico.
The city’s Westpac Stadium was filled to capacity for the game, with more than 35,000 good humoured fans dressed in white and chanting their support for the home team although chances of a miracle were minimal.
The Mexicans remained clinical on the ball, and Peralta’s hat-trick swiftly put the match out of reach of the home side.
The All Whites pulled two goals back in the second half as Chris James converted a spot kick before Fallon tucked the ball home at the back post.
But Mexico responded with a late fourth from Pena for the last laugh in the intercontinental tie.
However, they will need improvement in what will be their 15th World Cup. Mexico failed to qualify directly for Brazil because they won only two of 10 games in the final group stage, forcing them into the play-off with Oceania zone winners New Zealand.
Mexico went through several coaches and Miguel Herrera was only in charge on loan from the America club for the play-offs. However, he may stay on, with a decision expected in early December.
New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert was gracious in defeat, saying: “I just want to pay a massive tribute to the Mexican team ... really really enjoy Brazil you deserve it, you have been the better team across both ties.” Herbert, who announced the previous day that we was now stepping down from the job, said it was always going to be a tough ask for New Zealand to score the four goals it needed against Mexico to get through.
The All Whites’ loss puts an end to New Zealand’s hopes of qualifying for back-to-back World Cups and a third participation overall, the first in 1982.