England: Green, G, Johnson, Ferdinand, King, Baines, Walcott, Gerrard, Carrick, Milner, Crouch, Rooney. Subs: Hart, James, Carragher, Dawson, Upson, Warnock, Lennon, Parker, Huddlestone, Wright-Phillips, A, Johnson, Heskey, Defoe
Mexico: Perez, Juarez, Aguilar, Marquez, Salcido, Osorio, Torrado, Rodriguez, Giovani, Franco, Vela. Subs: Ochoa, Michel, Barrera, Castro, Blanco, Hernandez, Moreno, Guardado, Magallon, Torres, Bautista, Medina, Jonathan
The Mexicans looked sharp early and were attacking England with some crisp passing, but just lacked that final touch to get on the board. England however, looked quite sloppy and completely out of it early, but then out of nowhere Ledley King struck in the 18th minute from a corner to give England a 1-0 lead. Crouch had initial contact from the corner and directed a header back across goal where his Tottenham teammate was able to head into the back of the net.
Midway through the first half Rooney had already made two obvious gestures that he found the supply lacking. The most telling was when Walcott made a darting counter attacking run, only to attempt to play in Rooney from an offside position when Walcott had isolated the last defender. Clearly this is a partnership that could turn into a force in South Africa, but they need time to develop their timing.
Mexico continued attacking England and forced a world class save from Robert Green in the 29th minute. Giovanni Dos Santos made a brilliant run and then played a great ball across to Franco who was one on one with the keeper, but Green made himself large and was able to make the stop. Shortly after in the 32nd minute, England played a short corner and Gerrard found an open Rooney in the box. Rooney headed off the cross bar and Crouch was able to put the rebound in for a 2-0 England lead. The Mexicans were right back though as Vela was one on one, but again Green was up to the task and saved. Mexico, again, dominating possession, but unable to find that final touch. The end of the first half brought about some ugly tackles from both sides and the Mexicans continued to press the England side. Mexico really deserved a goal in the first half, and they were able to get that goal with the last kick of the half from an injured Guillermo Franco when he tapped in from a late corner. Dos Santos continually troubled the England back line during the first half and his pace caused problems all over the pitch.
Starting the second half, Mexico and England made changes. England brought on Jamie Carragher, Jermain Defoe and Joe Hart for Ferdinand, Crouch, and Green. Mexico brought on Javier Hernandez for the injured Guillermo Franco.
The second half started in lovely fashion for England, Glen Johnson made a fantastic run that took on five defenders and finished lovely with a curled effort that found the top corner from about 18 yards out and made it 3-1 to England within three minutes. As the second half developed, you could really see a much improved England side. Much more possession and a better attacking flow from the home side.
The game continued in a back and forth fashion, and in the 66th minute Gerrard was able to win a questionable free kick just on the edge of the box as a result of a fantastic pass from Rooney. It was a shoulder to shoulder challenge, but Gerrard sold it to the ref, and Barrera was carded. Gerrard just missed the goal by a couple of feet as the attack ended up with nothing to show for it. What it did do though was cement the Mexican frustration with the referee. Some cynical tackles followed, but it was Rooney who continued to play some brilliant passes to release England attackers.
Where Dos Santos was a terror in the first half, it was Barrera who was causing all sorts of problems for the England back four. Again though, Mexico was unable to cash in on Barrera’s excellent form. This will be a worry for England though. If these pacey attackers are causing this much trouble, it could be a very long World Cup for the three lions.
In the end it was a very comfortable win for England and will leave the English fans with a pretty good feeling heading to South Africa. There are plenty of reasons for the English to be concerned however. England massively struggled to deal with the pace of the Mexican attackers coming from midfield. If Mexico would have had better finishing on the night, it could have easily ended 3-3.
Mexico will be really happy with the play of Barrera and Dos Santos especially. Overall, I think Mexico played well and really deserved a better result than to lose 1-3. As they say, the only thing that matters is the score, and that is where Mexico struggled. They created many opportunities, but were just unable to put them away.
It was a very entertaining match and both countries have things to be happy about, but both coaches will see areas for improvement.
|8(5)||Shots (on Goal)||23(9)|
|34%||Time of Possession||66%|