Mexico celebrates after taking a 1-0 over lead New Zealand in the first leg of their CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff on November 13, 2013, at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Mexico moved one step closer to booking a ticket to the 2014 FIFA World Cup for the sixth consecutive time, beating New Zealand, 5-1, in the first leg of the CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff Wednesday at the Estadio Azteca.
Oribe Peralta scored a pair of goals, while Paul Aguilar, Raul Jimenez and Rafael Marquez added one each in victory for El Tri, who head to Westpac Stadium in Wellington for the second leg on November 20.
Miguel Herrera, Mexico’s fourth head coach in this World Cup Qualifying campaign, used a completely domestic squad, including seven from his Club America squad.
The response was dramatic and immediate with the Tricolor attacking with ferocity from the opening kickoff. After several near misses – the closest coming in the 24th minute when Francisco Rodriguez’s attempt from distance was parried off the crossbar by New Zealand goalkeeper Glen Moss – the host finally broke through in the 32nd minute.
After Moss and a defender collided in an attempt to clear a Mexican free kick, Aguilar capitalized to knock in the third international goal of his career from the edge of the six-yard box.
Jimenez, whose “chilena” against Panama helped keep Mexico’s World Cup hopes alive in a 2-1 victory at the Azteca last month, followed a corner kick with a second header in front of the goal to make it 2-0 at the half.
Eight minutes after the break, Peralta netted his sixth goal in ten qualifying appearances to give El Tri a 3-0 lead. Marquez started the scoring sequence with a long ball to Miguel Layun, who put a low cross along the six-yard box where Peralta latched on, sliding in to put the ball past Moss.
The duo combined again in the 80th minute with Peralta powering home another header from 12-yards out off a Layun cross for his second goal of the match.
Marquez, who came agonizingly close moments earlier, closed Mexico’s goal account four minutes later. The Leon defender, 34, headed in a short corner from the edge of the six-yard box for his fifth career World Cup Qualifying tally.
With five minutes left in regulation, the All Whites pulled one back through Chris James from 12 yards.