The Santos Laguna forward led the way as Mexico triumphed handily over its African opposition.Mexico bounced back from its Gold Cup embarrassment with a 4-1 friendly win over the Ivory Coast at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Oribe Peralta was the man of the hour, involving himself in all three of El Tri's first half goals.
The Ivory Coast started few of its big-name players, with Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, and Gervinho on the bench, while Yaya Toure wasn't even included in the match day squad.
Mexico, perhaps seeking to put the disappointment of a semifinal Gold Cup exit in the past as soon as possible, set out to dominate from the first whistle. With a high tempo and a good spell of possession, El Tri soon had the first chances of the game. Giovanni dos Santos sliced a shot just wide of the net with an effort from outside the box in the second minute before drawing a good save out of Boubacar Barry in the fifth.
The Mexican pressure and the lively spark of dos Santos wore on the Ivory Coast, with Elephants captain Zokora shown an early yellow for a cynical rake of the forward's heel after dos Santos moved past him through the midfield.
El Tri found its breakthrough right on the 10-minute mark. Angel Reyna made good progress down the left flank and picked out Peralta, who turned and played a short centering pass. The Ivory Coast's Arthur Boka got to the ball first, but his interception knocked the ball into the corner of his own net.
And although Mexico appeared to take its foot off the gas in the minutes following the opener, it had a second by the time the game was a half hour old. Under pressure, Ivory Coast fullback Jean Jaques Grosso played a long backpass, but instead of finding a teammate, the ball was charged down by Peralta, who blasted a shot into the high near corner to make it 2-0 in the 28th minute.
Trailing and thoroughly outplayed, the visitors resorted to increasingly physical play. New Swansea City signing Wilfried Bony was shown a yellow in the 31st minute, and Sol Bamba was lucky not to be sent off for an awful challenge on dos Santos shortly after.
Despite Mexico regularly carving open the Ivory Coast, including a penetrating run and shot from Angel Reyna that Barry could only parry out for a corner, the Elephants had a spell of threatening soccer near the end of the first, highlighted by a Mathis Bolly run that saw the Fortuna Dusseldorf winger skip past three black-clad defenders before a desperate rush from Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona conceded a corner.
It would not last however, as El Tri countered just before time to establish a commanding 3-0 lead. Reyna played dos Santos in down the right and his cross was met by the head of Peralta to cap a splendid opening period for the Santos Laguna man and Mexico.
Trailing so emphatically, the Ivory Coast introduced two of its big names during the interval, adding Drogba and Salomon Kalou. Despite the change, El Tri still held the upper hand, and threatened to turn the victory into a rout on 55 minutes, when Peralta was at the far post to tap home a Reyna cross, but the assistant referee correctly flagged the in-form striker for offside to prevent the hat trick.
Just as it took an official's decision to prevent Mexico's fourth, it took the intercession of the referee for the Ivory Coast to get on the board in the 62nd minute. Drogba fired a free kick into the wall, and referee David Gantar ruled quite harshly that Gerrardo Torrado had unfairly used his arm to block the ball. Drogba stepped up, sent Corona the wrong way, and buried his penalty in the low corner.
Angel Reyna added the final goal seconds before the end of normal time, collecting a cross at the far post and finishing well to help Mexico post an emphatic scoreline.
Mexico will look to carry its good form into competitive games, starting with a World Cup qualifier against Honduras on Sept. 6.