Mexico join Brazil in Last 16

Mexico join Brazil in Last 16
Mexico's defender Rafael Marquez celebrates after scoring. AFP

by Neil Greig

Tuesday Jun 24, 2014. 00:17

A convincing 3-1 win over Croatia with goals from Marquez, Guardado and Hernandez put Mexico into the World Cup Last 16 along with Brazil from Group A.

The match in Recife took a while to get going but once the first goal was scored, the floodgates opened and it was the Mexicans who stole the show as Croatia struggled to keep up in the dying minutes of the contest.

Mexico will now face the Netherlands in the next round, a team that has been in superb form winning all three of their group games convincingly.

Second-half goals from Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez sealed the impressive victory for Mexico over Niko Kovac's men, despite Ivan Perisic's late strike.

The encounter's first chance saw Perisic blaze Ivan Rakitic's right-wing cross over in the fifth minute, but Mexico went close just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark as Herrera struck the crossbar with a fierce effort from 30 yards.

Mexico went close again just a few moments later as Giovani dos Santos slipped a clever pass into the danger area for Oribe Peralta, but the Club America forward lost his footing while pulling the trigger.

The best opportunity Kovac's men could muster was a 31st-minute half-volley from Perisic, which comfortably cleared the bar from just outside the area. Despite some tactical tweaking from Kovac at the break, with Luka Modric seemingly taking up a more advanced position, Croatia's lack of creative spark was not remedied.

Srna luckily escaped conceding a penalty in the 65th minute as he appeared to block a Guardado shot with his arms, but it all went wrong for Croatia soon after.

Marquez gave Mexico a deserved lead with 72 minutes on the clock, nodding in Herrera's corner. Then Mexico sprang an incisive breakaway and, after receiving a squared pass from substitute Chicharito, Peralta set up Guardado for an easy finish inside the area.

Mexico gave the scoreline a more resounding look in the 82nd minute as Marquez flicked on a cross and Chicharito was on hand to nod in from close range.

Perisic got Croatia on the scoresheet with a clever finish from an acute angle, but Rebic ended any hopes of an improbable comeback with a callous challenge on Carlos Pena, earning a straight red as the European side go home early.

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