Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez might have fluffed his lines by missing a glorious late chance in a sodden Group A contest in Natal, but at least Mexico began this World Cup with a useful 1-0 victory over Cameroon.
El Tri were less than fancied ahead of a team that had recently drawn 2-2 with Germany but Miguel Herrera’s side overwhelmed Cameroon in the opening exchanges, and were twice denied by the offside flag. Former Spurs man Giovanni Dos Santos saw two goals chalked off incorrectly, the first from Hector Herrera’s delicious cross and the second from a corner deflected into his path by a Cameroonian head. The Indomitable Lions barely mustered a shot on target, Sameul Eto’o blasting wide from close range after superb work from Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
It’s a tag that Hernandez has been attempting to escape, especially of late in his pursuit of a place in United’s starting XI, but on this form, and given the effectiveness of those starting in his stead, it’s a role he might need to become used to in the national side.
Brought on in the 70th minute for Peralta, Hernandez instantly set about attempting to stretch Cameroon’s backline, slotting a useful low cross that Marco Fabian couldn’t quite reach. His moment arrived in stoppage time; the game was already delicately poised, Guillermo Ochoa having just saved from Benjamin Moukandjo’s smart header before Miguel Layun won possession and crossed perfectly for an unmarked Hernandez, who had far more time than he realised before firing disappointingly over on the volley with Cameroon’s defence elsewhere.
Here’s what a few United fans thought of the miss.
And that's why Chicharito will never be that good.
— Lucas Sposito (@LucasSposito_) June 13, 2014
Not Hernandez's year by any stretch.
— Kyri (@Chuparos) June 13, 2014
Blaming Moyes for that one.
— Paul (@NQATPaul) June 13, 2014
For El Tri, a win here was vital for any hopes they foster of escaping Group A, especially with Tuesday’s meeting with the hosts on the horizon and this was a thoroughly deserved victory, make no mistake.
Unfortunately for Hernandez, the nature of Mexico’s best chances and the way in which Dos Santos and Peralta seized them means a starting berth in midweek appears particularly unlikely. At least his ability to sniff out a chance remains comfortingly undiminished.