In a very rainy day in Natal, Brazil, Mexico defeated Cameroon 1-0 in the second match of the 2014 World Cup. Mexico controlled the match and was able to hold onto their one-goal lead to earn a crucial three points. Oribe Peralta scored the lone goal that put Mexico level on points with hosts Brazil.
The first half was mainly controlled by Mexico, although Cameroon showed great flashes of play on the counter attack. El Tri controlled most of the possession, but failed to make that final pass into the box to create a chance. Their best chances came from set pieces, with two shots ending up in the net being disallowed because they were called offside; both of the offside calls were incredibly close. As the half wore on, Cameroon grew more confident, but that confidence did not translate into a lot of chances. The best chance for the Africans came in the 21st minute when Assou-Ekotto dribbled through the defense to deliver a great driven cross to the feet of Eto’o, who missed just wide. Unfortunately, the biggest talking point of the first half was the referees as the two disallowed goals were incredibly close calls.
Just after the start of the second half, Mexico had a great chance to go ahead as Dos Santos flicked a great ball onto Peralta. He took a scorcher, despite having very little room, but his shot was saved by Itandje. In the second half, the match became much more open as both sides attacked each other with pace. In the 58th minute Stephane Mbia created a great free kick opportunity for Cameroon. The free kick was taken by Assou-Ekotto and just missed wide off of a deflection. Mexico soon broke through with a rebound goal by Oribe Peralta. Giovani Dos Santos found space and had his shot saved right onto the path of Peralta.
Scoring the opening goal did not make Mexico sit back and defend, as both sides continued to attack. Giovani Dos Santos was the most impressive man on the field the whole night creating for his teammates and finding space to hurt Cameroon repeatedly. Near the end of the match, Cameroon got on the attack much more as they looked for an equalizer. In the 91st minute the Africans created an excellent chance as it took a great save from Mexican keeper Ochoa to keep out a header. El Tri saw the game out well, not letting the Africans find goal on their way to victory. They can take a lot of confidence from this win going forward as they will need it against Brazil in the next match.
Mexico deserved the win by controlling the match the entire way. Cameroon may have lost, but showed resilience in their counter attacks and did not get blown out by a team that truly outplayed them. El Tri will play the hosts Brazil in their next match and Cameroon will face Croatia. Both matches are crucial to the group standings, as Brazil and Mexico currently leading the group with three points each and Croatia and Cameroon looking for their first points. Group A has played out as many expected so far so that can only mean surprises and upsets are yet to come in the group.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius