• Friday May 31, 2013

    10-man Mexico draws with Nigeria

    HOUSTON - Javier Hernandez scored two goals and Mexico earned a 2-2 draw against Nigeria despite playing a man down for more than an hour in an international friendly on Friday at Reliant Stadium.

    The game, which pitted the current champions of CONCACAF and Africa against each other, was an entertaining affair, made even more intriguing by the 27th dismissal of El Tri's Pablo Barrera.

    Mexico controlled much of the early going, emphasized by Hernandez hitting the crossbar with a 10th minute effort.

    Monterrey forward Aldo De Nigris - the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League Golden Ball winner -- missed on a pair of opportunities shortly afterwards, but the overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd of 62,107 had something to cheer about In the 21st minute.

    A perfectly placed pass by Barrera from the right wing found Hernandez alone at the top of the six-yard box and the Manchester United star coolly stroked past goalkeeper Austin Ejide.

    The match changed dramatically in the 27th minute on a play that resulted in Barrera's ejection. The Cruz Azul star was judged to have handled in the box a shot by Nnamdi Oduamadi following some neat interchanges among the Nigerian attackers. Aide Brown Ideye converted the penalty to knot the match at 1-1.

    Buoyed by the man advantage, Nigeria pushed for more, taking a 40th minute lead after John Ugochukwu's attempt deflected off Gerardo Torrado, wrong-footing goalkeeper Jesús Corona.

    Just before half-time, De Nigris could have leveled from close range, but his right-footed stab flashed wide of the near post.

    De la Torre made several changes after the break, introducing Hiram Mier, Gerardo Flores and Hector Herrera. The trio brought a new dimension to Mexico's play. As the second half wore on, it became evident that it was only a matter of time for the equalizer to arrive.

    That goal would come courtesy of Hernández's anticipatory brilliance in the 70th minute, finishing an efficient sequence that started in Mexico's penalty area with Corona. The 25-year-old one-timed a pass from Carlos Salcido, slipping behind a defender and beating Ejide to the ball from four-yards out. Hernández became the fifth-highest scorer in the history of the Mexican national team with 32 goals in only 47 appearances, surpassing Enrique Borja.

    After the match defender Severo Meza lamented that the team couldn't get the win, but highlighted the performance of his teammates.

    "We always have the mentality of attacking and maintaining possession and going for the opponent's goal," Meza told CONCACAF.com. "We had a lot of chances tonight and fought well, but unfortunately we couldn't capitalize on more of our opportunities."

    Mexico, which has drawn its last six matches, returns to World Cup Qualifying action this Tuesday against Jamaica in Kingston.

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