Having only seen the goals of our little striking sensation on replays, I decided to bite the bullet and stay up to watch the Gold Cup final live to see if Hernandez can steer Mexico to glory having played such an integral role in getting them there. I’ll follow our diminutive striker throughout the game and record his performance minute-by-minute. Javier Hernandez sits atop the goalscoring chart of this years Gold Cup with 7 goals, 3 ahead of any of his Mexican team-mates. No Mexican player has had such international attention since Hugo Sanchez and we all know the legacy that he left behind himself, a winning performance here and Hernandez will do his reputation no harm.
2′ – Hernandez instantly made himself a goal-scoring opportunity after beating the offside trap but didn’t manage to get anything on the delivery and the ball drifted out. He should of done better and finished it first time but it is only the second minute of the game so we will give him the benefit of the doubt. Already though we can see his good movement already shining through.
11′ – Second chance of the game and another good chance for Chicharito. A lofted cross gives him a header but he was always leaning back and the ball drifted over the bar. The chances are there for him today so let’s hope that he can continue his goalscoring form if he gets a clear cut.
13′ – Oh it couldn’t get any closer for Hernandez. He is looking dangerous every time he gets the ball and yet another wonderfully timed run leaves himself with only the keeper to beat and he elegantly dinked the ball over the oncoming Howard only for it to come back off the post and dribble over the by line. Hernandez could have already had a hat-trick today if his chances went in, which is reflective of the absolutely ferocious pace of the game.
27′ – Well, Javier Hernandez doesn’t just score goals. At times, the passing of Hernandez let him down last season in the Premier League but you won’t see a more sublimely timed and weighted ball than that from a striker than that, hitting the ball on the half-volley to send a 25 yard ball through to get Mexico back on the score sheet. If he can grow his passing game to anywhere near the level that his finishing is at, then he could make himself one of the most complete strikers on the planet. Great ball and game on.
36′ – 2-2. A scrappy goal from Guardardo brings Mexico level and it is completely deserved. He might not have scored here but I am giving a very big shout-out to Hernandez. As the ball was drifting over the line, Hernandez had the quick thinking and intelligence to leave the ball because he knew he would of been called offside. What a fantastic piece of awareness that is from such a young striker, to go against his instincts and leave the ball. It was also a great testament for Hernandez showing that he doesn’t care about his own personal glories ahead of the team. He could well surpass the legacy of Hugo Sanchez if he carries on at this rate.
49′ – This game is bursting at the seams with goals as Barrera curls in a peach of an effort with the outside of his boot to make it 3-2 to Mexico. If Hernandez doesn’t get another opportunity to put himself on the scoresheet at this rate then I would be very surprised and with his form at the Gold Cup, you would expect him to make the most of it if he gets it.
50-72′ – After Mexico took the lead, the attacking threat of Mexico lessened as they tried to slow the tempo of the game down as much as they could. The game became a lot of end-to-end pacey football without any real goalscoring opportunities. A wide free-kick from Mexico led to Hernandez’s best sight of goal in the second half but it was only a half chance header at that. He is still playing very far up the pitch though so as long as the game remains 3-2, the threat of a Mexico counter always existed.
76′ – Absolutely brilliant hold-up play from Hernandez in the corner showed the strength a man with a low centre of gravity can have. His persistence paid off as it led to what has to be one of the best finishes I have seen this year and what a time to do it. Giovanni Dos Santos has been a man possessed in this game and after Howard came out, he used silky close control to create enough space for him to chip an absolutely delightful goal into the absolute top corner of the goal, it was the only way it was going to get above a stretching Bocanegra.
76-90′ – Mexico had a 2 goal lead by this point and had absolutely no reason to attack with any real menace, although they still looked the more dangerous going forward which is a testament as to how well Mexico played. Hernandez kept running around and being a great big thorn in the side of USA. They easily turned around what was an unfortunate 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 victory and Mexico were crowned 2011 Gold Cup champions.
Javier Hernandez may not have got himself on the score sheet in the game but it needn’t take anything away from how well he played in the match. A sublime assist was the least that he deserved in a match he almost looked destined to score in. He may not have scored but it had no impact on him walking away with the Golden Boot from the competition with 7 goals and it marks an end to an absolutely fantastic 12 months for the Mexican. Not only did he walk away with the Golden Boot but he was also named Player of the Tournament. He really is looking like a world beater. Nobody could have imagined what a rise to success he has had but since joining United, he has managed to secure not only a Premier League winners medal but now secured himself a national medal with Mexico. Hernandez will be back in America with United for the pre-season tour that starts on July 13 and let’s all hope that he can somehow keep his goalscoring pace up even though it looks almost impossible, such is his firing rate right now.