An Oribe Peralta hat-trick booked Mexico a spot in its sixth successive World Cup on Wednesday, as El Tri downed New Zealand 4-2 to end a roller-coaster qualification campaign on a high.
Peralta, who also scored two when Mexico trounced the All Whites 5-1 at home in last week’s first leg, effectively killed off the return leg before the break, with Carlos Pena making the aggregate score 9-3 at the death. Victory in the intercontinental play-off means Mexico has now made 15 of the last 20 World Cups, making it one of the most consistent teams in international football.
But the 24th-ranked team has endured a rocky qualification road to Brazil, barely scraping to an embarrassing fourth place in CONCACAF and it allowing the unfancied All Whites to claw back two late goals in Wellington.
Coach Miguel Herrera, who took over last month and revamped the team with domestic players, said they were not yet the finished article and must improve in order to make a mark in Brazil.
“It was very tough for us to make it,” he said. “Obviously we have to do a lot of work off the field and also on the field.”
“If we mix both together, I think that Mexico can do well in the World Cup going to the World Cup is totally different than just playing a single game.”
The result: New Zealand 2 (Smith 80-pen, Fallon 82) lost to Mexico 4 (Peralta 13, 29, 33, Pena 87) (Mexico wins 9-3 on aggregate and qualifies for the World Cup).