Alan Pulido (#11) scored three goals in his international debut, as Mexico posted a 4-0 win over Korea Republic in an international friendly on January 29, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo: Mecsport)
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Mexico opened its 2014 schedule on Wednesday much in the same way it closed the previous year by scoring four goals in a winning effort, topping Korea Republic 4-0 in an international friendly before a crowd of 54,313 at the Alamodome .
Alan Pulido netted a hat-trick in his international debut, while Oribe Peralta – the 2013 CONCACAF Player of the Year -- got things rolling with a clinical first-half strike.
It was slightly more than two months ago that Mexico posted a 4-2 victory over New Zealand in the second leg of their CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff to take the series 9-3 on aggregate and qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Those good feelings were strengthened in a match that featured undeniable attacking intent on the part of both sides. The Koreans created the better chances in the first 30 minutes with a pair of headers that did not worry the solid Alfredo Talavera in goal.
The Tricolor took a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute, when Toluca defender Miguel Ponce delivered a hard cross from the left side into the box for Peralta. The Santos forward controlled the ball with the inside of his left thigh, turned splendidly and fired a right-footed rocket past goalkeeper Seung-Gyu Kim from the edge of the six-yard box.
Just before halftime, Mexico doubled its advantage thanks to Pulido’s first goal. Carlos Peña received a headed pass from center-back and Leon teammate Rafael Marquez inside the box. The midfielder found Pulido who, on his third try, he was able to find the back of the net from the goal line.
Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera made three changes at halftime and three more in the 55th minute. The moves reduced the encounter’s pace until the final five minutes as the CONCACAF power pulled away.
In the 85th minute, Isaac Brizuela made a brilliant darting run through the left side of the area, outdoing four Korean defenders and crossing to Pulido, who rifled into the back of the net from close range to make it 3-0.
Four minutes later, a Luis Montes effort was parried by Kim into the path of Aldo de Nigris, but the Chivas striker’s attempt was also blocked by the goalkeeper with his left foot. The ball landed for Pulido to slide home from 12 yards.
“It’s important the way in which matches are won,” De Nigris told CONCACAF.com afterwards. “It was a difficult opponent and was not easy. They are very dynamic, very intense, were organized and have very good players, so the victory is something very good in order to regain confidence and continue improving in regards to our play.”
The win was Mexico’s first against Korea in their last five meetings, dating back to 1999.