England recorded a 3-1 victory against a lively but limited Mexico last night in Wembley stadium. Despite controlling the first half in terms of possession and chances Mexico suffered due to poor defending and an inability to adequately deal with set pieces into their goal area.
Ledley King and Peter Crouch put England 2-0 ahead before West Ham’s Guillermo Franco pulled one back just before half time in an eventful and Mexico dominant first half. A brilliant solo effort from Glen Johnson ensured an England victory mid-way through the second half after England had altered their shape and upped the tempo.
Mexico showed good movement and technique especially in the 1st half with the England goalkeeper and woodwork coming to the home teams rescue however Mexico were lacking in defensive steel and suffered because of the lack of height at the back.
Mexico coach, Javier Aguirre chose an altered starting eleven dropping his usual keeper Ochoa to bench and playing the veteran Oscar Perez. Andres Guardado also started on the bench in favour of Rodriguez and Vela and Franco were the front two attackers supported by Giovanni Dos Santos.
It was Dos Santos who was to be tormenter in chief through-out the first half continually splitting the England midfield with his excellent close control and bursting runs. However despite a spritely start Mexico went behind from in 17 minutes courtesy of a Gerrard cross which was headed by a towering Crouch back to a poorly marked Ledley King who nodded home from 6 yards.
Despite going behind Mexico continued to control possession and were far more creative in midfield but fortunately for England an in form Robert Green was on hand to deny Arsenal’s Carlos Vela twice before a Salcido shot cracked his left hand post.
England’s defence was being by-passed with Mexico’s slick and fast passing game but in 35 minutes another Gerrard cross was to cause all the trouble. Wayne Rooney met Gerrard’s cross with a glancing header and although Perez did well to parry, Crouch used his height to muscle the ball over the line.
To be losing 2-0 was unjust reward for Mexico but finally they were rewarded for their invention and endeavour in the final minute of the first term. Rafael Marquez beat King to the ball and with a header just inside the box which was then fumbled by a dithering Leighton Baines which gifted Guillermo Franco an easy tap in from 3 yards.
Whatever Capello said to his troops at half time must have had an effect as the English players started the second half with a greater deal of purpose and intent. The midfield duo of Carrick and Milner were much quicker in closing down now and as a result limited the previous space the Mexican’s enjoyed for creativity. In the 47th minute the game was essentially finished by a sublime goal from Glen Johnson who danced passed 3 defenders before lashing a left foot screamer from 25 yards.
Both managers knew the contest was now over now so opted to make various substitutes none of which had a great effect.
In the end the game was played out with half chances that came to nothing with England the more dominant and assured.
For Mexico it was a much needed wake up call. Although they can be happy with their first half display and an astonishing 23 shots on goal, if they are to progress past the World Cup 1st round they will have to be organized in defence and more physical in approach. Also the strikers were wasteful in front of goal and chances will be at a premium especially against France and Uruguay.Vela, Franco and Hernandez will not be given many second chances in South Africa so will have to sharpen their shooting skills.
England: Green (Hart 45), Glen Johnson, Ferdinand (Carragher 45), King, Baines, Walcott (Lennon 77), Gerrard, Carrick (Huddlestone 62), Milner (Johnson 85), Crouch (Defeo 45), Rooney.
Subs not used : Dawson, Upson, Warnock, Parker, Wright-Phillips, Heskey,
Mexico: Perez, Juarez, Aguilar (Barrera 52) , Marquez, Salcido, Osorio, Torrado, Rodriguez, Giovani (Blanco 72), Franco (Hernandez 45), Vela (Guardado 62).
Subs not used : Ochoa, Michel, Castro, Moreno, , Magallon, Torres, Bautista, Medina, Jonathan.