FIFA Confederations Cup 2017
Olimpiyskiy Stadion Fisht, Sochi, Russia
Mexico kept alive their 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup hopes as the North and Central American Champions came from a goal behind to defeat New Zealand in a fiercely contested match.
Oribe Peralta scored the winner for the Mexicans to knock the All Whites out of the competition after Benfica’s Raúl Jiménez cancelled out Chris Wood’s first-half strike, which had given New Zealand a surprise lead three minutes before the interval.
Mexico didn’t get off to the best of starts but had a good chance to take the lead in the 13th minute when Javier Aquino’s teasing delivery was headed wide by Giovani Dos Santos, who was distracted by the high foot of Peralta, who was looking to bring the ball down.
Six minutes later the Oceanic Champions went close when a New Zealand corner was met by Tommy Smith with a header that Alfredo Talavera saved comfortably.
In the 26th minute New Zealand should have taken the lead when Wood was played through on-goal, he had just Talavera to beat but his effort was brilliantly palmed away by the keeper.
Three minutes before the break, the Kiwis took a surprise lead when a fine through-ball from Clayton Lewis sent Wood through on-goal and the Leeds United striker fired home.
Mexico started the second-half in the ascendancy and had a good chance to level the scores four minutes into the restart when Dos Santos received Jürgen Damm’s pull-back to fire over the bar after Aquino’s effort from a tight-angle was smothered away by Marinovic.
Three minutes later New Zealand had a great chance to double their lead when Wood was played through on-goal, he had just Talavera to beat, but the keeper smothered the ball away.
The Oceanic Champions were made to rue their missed opportunity as Mexico drew level two minutes later when Jiménez swiveled on the edge of the area before firing a powerful effort past Marinovic and into the top-corner.
In the 72nd minute Mexico completed the comeback when Aquino beat Dane Ingham before pulling the ball back to Peralta, who fired home at the near-post.
Two minutes later New Zealand had a good chance to level the scores when a long-throw from substitute Bill Tuiloma was met by Smith with a header that Talavera saved well, although he should have scored.
A minute later the Mexicans had a great chance to seal the victory when a swift counter-attack enabled Damm to surge forward before cutting-inside to curl an effort just over the bar.
In the 84th minute the Oceanic Champions very nearly drew level when Ryan Thomas struck the bar with a curling effort from-range that had Talavera well-beaten.
Four minutes later Mexico should have put the tie to bed when Aquino’s pull-back found Jiménez, who looked set to make the net bulge, but his effort was brilliantly blocked on the line by Smith.
There were eight additional minutes to be played due to a large scuffle that required the Video Assistant Referee system and in the seventh of those, Mexico went close when Damm cut-inside to fire an effort that Marinovic palmed behind at his near-post.
The result meant that Mexico moved up to second in Group A on four points, behind Portugal on goal-difference, while Russia dropped to third on three points, ahead of New Zealand (still without a point), who bowed out of the competition with a remaining group game to be played.