Photo: El Tri Wins
Mexico’s national soccer team released months of frustration with a 5-1 shellacking of New Zealand in inter-regional World Cup qualifying action here Wednesday, all but assuring itself of a berth in Brazil.
Paul Aguilar, Raul Jimenez and Rafael Marquez scored a goal apiece and Oribe Peralta put the ball in the back of the net twice for El Tri, which now must only avoid losing by a four-goal margin in the second leg of the playoff, to be played Nov. 20 in Wellington.
Mexico, which has endured a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign and changed coaches four times in two months, dominated ball possession and took advantage of all the opportunities provided by its opponent to thrill the packed crowd at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca.
Mexico threatened New Zealand’s goal repeatedly in the first half, creating one-on-one opportunities against net minder Glenn Moss and getting goals from Aguilar in the 32nd minute and Jimenez off a corner kick eight minutes later.
In the second half, the Mexicans played with the freedom and confidence that was sorely lacking in their play during CONCACAF qualifying and outclassed an opponent that had more enthusiasm than weapons to detain El Tri’s onslaught.
Peralta scored the first of his two goals in the 48th minute to give Mexico a 3-0 lead.
Mexico also got two goals late in the second half - one from Peralta and another off Marquez’s foot - before New Zealand salvaged some pride with a goal from Chris James in the 85th minute.
Mexico was forced to play off against Oceania champion New Zealand for a World Cup berth after finishing fourth behind the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras in qualifying action in the CONCACAF region.