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Mexico, Uruguay advance World Cup hopes

DPA
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Mexico playing New Zealand in the playoff.Photo: AP
Mexico playing New Zealand in the playoff.Photo: AP

Mexico took a major step toward the 2014 World Cup Wednesday with an emphatic 5–1 win over New Zealand in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca.

Pending the return leg of their play–off next week, Mexico’s “Tri” reassured a crowd of 90,000 and gave little chance to their rivals from Oceania.

A goal from Paul Aguilar 31 minutes into the match settled the home crowd, after months of poor performances from a side that has played in the last five World Cups.

Raul Jimenez found the net with a header in the 39th minute, while Oribe Peralta scored a second–half brace and veteran Rafael Marquez made things 5–0 with a header in the 84th minute. Chris James gave New Zealand a glimpse of hope ahead of the return leg – on November 20 in Wellington – with a goal in the 85th minute.

Mexico, traditionally the football giants of the North, Central American and Caribbean region (CONCACAF), has had four coaches this year.

The team ended the CONCACAF qualifying round in fourth, and would have certainly missed the World Cup if the already—qualified United States had not beaten Panama with a last–minute goal in their last match.

“The functioning of the team was fantastic,” said Mexico coach Miguel Herrera. “I am happy for the lads, because they did an extraordinary job and gave everything.” Herrera stressed that Mexico would set out to win the away match in New Zealand as well.

New Zealand coach Richard Herbert, in turn, praised Mexico as the better team and admitted that getting a World Cup berth is by now virtually impossible.

Uruguay imposed football logic Wednesday, with a 5–0 win in Jordan that left them very close to being assured the right to compete in the Brazil 2014 World Cup. Although the return leg of this play–off is still to be played in Montevideo next week, the thrashing effectively means that Uruguay can start.

Maximiliano Pereira put the visitors ahead in the 21st minute, while Christian Stuani scored four minutes before the break. In the second half, Nicolas Lodeiro and Cristian Rodriguez were on target against the weak Jordanian defence, and Edinson Cavani netted the ball with a beautifully executed free kick in injury time.

The inexperienced Jordanians – who came third in the Asian qualifiers and were hoping to make it to the first World Cup in their history — were powerless against Uruguay in Ammam’s International Stadium.DPA


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