Soccer  > World Cup  > Mexico moves to verge of second round
June 17, 2010, 04:52 PM
POLOKWANE, South Africa - Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored in the 64th minute to break a goalless deadlock and Mexico moved to the verge of the second round of the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over France on Thursday.

Hernandez dropped a ball back to Rafael Marquez in midfield who returned the ball back as the Manchester United striker streaked toward goal. Beating the offside trap, he was alone as he controlled the ball, dribbled around French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris just inside the penalty area and rolled the ball into an empty net.

Cuauhtemoc Blanco added a penalty in the 79th to all but secure El Tri's place in the round-of-16.

The victory gave Mexico four points just behind Group A leader Uruguay on goal difference. France and South Africa were left with one point each heading into the final round of group matches. Mexico finishes its group schedule against Uruguay on Tuesday, needing only a draw to advance, while France faces winless South Africa.

Hernandez's goal came after Mexico had the better of chances in the first half and Les Bleus appeared to be getting the more quality opportunities early in the second half.

Hernandez, the 22-year-old prodigy who in April had his transfer to England from Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara, entered the match only nine minutes before his goal, replacing midfielder Efrain Juarez.

France had the better chances to start the second half with Florent Malouda forcing Mexican keeper Oscar Perez to tip his shot from 19 meters over the bar in the 54th, and Franck Ribery made Perez push another chance around the near post a minute-and-a-half later.

Blanco added the insurance after Eric-Sylvain Abidal tripped Pablo Barrera, sparking the Mexicans into celebration.

All was not happy for Mexico. Arsenal striker Carlos Vela appeared to injure his right hamstring in a midfield tangle with Jeremy Toulalan, forcing manager Javier Aguirre to replace him with Barrera in the 32nd.

France, which was held goalless for the second straight match, had slightly more possession but Mexico had the better chances in the opening half. Giovani Dos Santos' was whistled for offside just before his left-footed shot ricocheted off the far post in the third minute and Vela, Guillermo Franco and Barrera all had shots high or wide.

Mexico found ample space down the right side of the French defense in the first 30 minutes, highlighted when Carlos Salcido was able to get around Bacary Sagna in the 36th only to have Les Bleus Lloris block his shot from the edge of the goal box wide of the near post.

Aguirre made one change from his lineup that earned a 1-1 draw with South Africa in the opening match, inserting Hector Moreno for Paul Aguilar.

Group A

Friday, June 11
South Africa 1, Mexico 1
Uruguay 0, France 0
Wednesday, June 16
South Africa 0, Uruguay 3
Thursday, June 17
France 0, Mexico 2
Tuesday, June 22
Mexico vs. Uruguay
France vs. South Africa


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