With a squad made up mostly of Club America and Leon FC players, the Mexican men’s national team defeated Finland 4-2 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in a preparation match before their home and away playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand next month. El Tri took complete control of the pitch against a Finnish team that fell back waiting for a counterstrike opportunity.
From the beginning Mexico took an aggressive stance pushing the Nordics back onto their side of the field. The Mexicans took possession of the ball and were getting closer by the second. Carlos “Gulit” Peña had a break out performance taking the ball down the middle easily moving through the defense. On the wings, Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar were a nightmare for the Finnish defenders.
A free kick opportunity for Mexico in the 11th minute brought the first goal. Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez centered into the area. Defender Rafael Marquez cleared his marker, reached the ball and headed past goalkeeper Henri Sillanpaa. The crowd went wild as the Mexican squad took the lead.
Mexico continued their fast-paced game keeping the Finns on their side of pitch and increasing their number shots on goal. In the 24th Peña received a pass in the central area. He took the ball past the defense and shot past Sillanpaa for the 2-0. “Gulit,” one of the more dynamic players on the pitch for Mexico doubled the Mexican lead.
The fans continued to cheer, the wave began to flow around the stands, and every pass by El Tri was greeted with an “Ole!” But then the Finns made their move. On a free kick that the Mexican defense failed to clear, Jarkko Hurme found a rebound and nailed it into the back of Moises Muñoz’ net. The goal temporarily revived Finland. They pushed and made more advances, but Mexico was able to recover and the game went to the break with the 2-1.
It didn’t take the Mexicans long to get their next goal on the board. Oribe Peralta fired from outside the area and the ball hit a defender sending it to inside of the crossbar and into the back of the net for the 3-1.
Mexico was in complete control of the game with the Finns offering very little resistance waiting for a counterstrike opportunity. Even when the Finns did have the opportunity to run the ball, they would throw the ball out with wild shots that never really bothered the keeper.
Finland took the ball into the area in the 56th and surprised the Mexicans with a center. Defender Juan Carlos Valenzuela slid to clear the ball but sent it into his own net to give the Finns a fighting chance. The game was 3-2.
The Mexicans sealed the game in the 64th with a pass from Peralta to Jesus Escoboza who beat his markers and put the ball past Sillanpaa for the final 4-2 score.
“I’m satisfied that they worked as a team,” Mexico Coach Miguel Herrera said after the game. “The team played well. We maintained possession of the ball. We have to work on distractions, errors that turn into goals. But I was overall satisfied with the team’s work.”
This is the last match for Mexico before they host New Zealand at the Azteca stadium, then travel to Wellington, New Zealand to try and book their passage to Brazil 2014.