Mexico have progressed to the second round of the World Cup for the eighth tournament in a row after defeating Croatia 3-1 at Arena Pernambuco in Recife this morning.
Mexico went into the game knowing that a draw would see them advance to the second round, but that did not stop Mexico coach Miguel Herrera sending his side out in their usual attacking formation, while Croatia were slow out of the gates.
Hector Herrera was almost able to open the scoring for Mexico when a powerful shot from outside the box thundered into the crossbar and he gave teammate Oribe Perlta another opportunity just three minutes later.
Croatia were unable to create any real chances in the opening half and could not take an advantage of their set pieces – an area that they were expected to have the edge over a Mexico side that conceded a number of goals from free kicks in qualifying.
Mexico had a scare in the 52nd minute when Danijel Pranjic got a hold off a poor clearance from Mexico, but he was unable to take advantage of the opportunity and El Tri remained the better side for much of the second half.
Mexico had two calls for penalties turned down in the space of a minute, which replays showed should have been given, but the poor officiating did not cost them and Rafael Marquez put his side in front with a classy header just over five minutes later.
Andres Guardado secured a place in the second round for his side after capitalizing on a fabulous ball from Javier Hernandez and ‘Chicharito’ gave his side a chance of finishing on top of Group A with his own goal seven minutes later.
Croatia got on the scoreboard through Ivan Perisic, in what was the first goal that Mexico had conceded all tournament, but it was too late for Croatia and they bowed out at the Group stage for the third time since their third place finish in 1998.
Mexico will take on The Netherlands in their second round clash at Estadio Castelao on June 29 and they are now available at 2014 World Cup odds of $41 to win the event in the betting market with Ladbrokes.com.au.