Action from the World Cup preparation match between Mexico and Bosnia-Herzegovina (blue jersey) on June 3, 2014, in Chicago. (Photo: Mexsport)
CHICAGO – In a World Cup preparation match, tournament debutant Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated Mexico 1-0 on Tuesday before 60,707 fans at Soldier Field.
The encounter featured an intriguing striker match-up between a pair of Manchester rivals: United’s Javier Hernandez and Edin Dzeko of City. However, it was midfielder Izet Hajrovic and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic who stole the show and secured victory for the Europeans.
Bosnia, which qualified for its first ever World Cup by edging out Greece in UEFA’s Group G, had the better of play in the early going. Dzeko looked particularly menacing in the opening ten minutes. A fancy flick saw him drive a low shot that was saved by Mexican goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera in the third minute and, then, the 28-year-old sent two good chances soaring just over the framework.
As Mexico settled into the game, it almost got on the score sheet. In the 24th minute, Miguel Layun played an incisive diagonal ball to Hernandez, who did well to control and strike on the half-volley off the left post.
The game’s lone goal came five minutes before the break. Senad Lulic played teammate Sejad Salihovic in to space within the Mexican area, before Hajrovic swept home a left-footed finish from just eight-yards out to give Bosnia an advantage that it wouldn’t surrender.
In the second half, El Tri looked to press forward, with Layun again looking particularly bright down the right flank. In the 58th minute, the Mexicans had a good opportunity to level the score, but Miguel Ponce flashed his shot wide from just inside the area.
Dzeko just missed on a glancing header in the 64th minute and only two world-class saves from Begovic kept the CONCACAF power from tying the match.
In the 86th minute, after Giovani Dos Santos won a free kick in the attacking third, Bayern Leverkusen’s Andres Guardado whipped in a cross that was met well by Francisco Rodriguez, whose header was just barely kept out of the back of the net by a sprawling Begovic. Ponce was again denied one minute into stoppage time after his fierce left-footed effort from 35-yards out was pushed wide by the Bosnian netminder.
Mexico, which will face Portugal in another World Cup tune-up on Friday in Foxborough, Massachusetts, had its unbeaten streak in FIFA-recognized full internationals snapped at seven games.