Mexico's young squad registered another tame performance in Mendoza as Peru missed a string of chances only to be rescued by Hamburg's Paolo Guerrero late on.
Peru moved joint-top of Group C in the 2011 Copa America after a late 1-0 victory over Mexico, a result which left the recently crowned Gold Cup champion on the verge of elimination.
Mexico’s inexperienced side found itself at the receiving end of a Peruvian blitz in the opening minutes as Rinaldo Cruzado, Carlos Lobaton and Paolo Guerrero all registered early efforts as Sergio Markarian's men looked to signal their intent.
A barrage of Juan Manuel Vargas corners continued to test Mexico’s haggard-looking defense, but the back of the net was elusive, even to Peru, which enjoyed as good a spell as anyone in this edition of the trophy.
As the contest trudged towards the half hour mark, it threatened to sink into anonymity. Vargas, Cruzado and Lobaton were unable to combine as they had done in the early stages, and Mexico’s defense began to settle into the tie, standing in the way of any corners or through-balls la Rojiblanca threw at them.
It was perhaps unsurprising that the first half ended with a stalemate on the cards once more – for all of Mexico’s determination, it rarely found itself in Peruvian territory, save a short-range effort from Aquino which was well blocked from Santiago Acasiete, while Peru’s only sight of goal after their opening salvo came from speculative efforts from distance which did nothing to trouble Luis Michel.
The second half began with the miss of the match. Yoshimar Yotun, on as a half time substitute, swung in a cross and Guerrero, despite standing unmarked among the Mexican defensive ranks, headed the ball wide when he should have netted his 12th international goal.
If the Hamburg striker’s effort was sub-par, Vargas was purely unlucky minutes later. Peru’s captain took a great touch inside his man before sending in a powerful shot which came back off the post. It was a great moment of skill from the generally underwhelming Fiorentina midfielder, and a sign that Mexico’s young defense was becoming leaky once more.
Peru sensed that three points could be on the cards. It cut out the optimistic shots, and Michel was soon forced into making saves as he found his goal under pressure. Dos Santos, meanwhile, ever Mexico’s creative hub in the first period, was forced to come deep to get some time on the ball, and became visibly frustrated.
The South Americans got closer and closer. Vargas saw an exquisite free kick strike the same post as his angled drive had previously, before Michel made a fantastic save to deny Guerrero a headed goal.
Their breakthrough finally came with eight minutes to spare. Mexico failed to clear its lines from a corner, and after some pinball in the area, Guerrero found himself free at the far post to give his side a valuable lead. Mexico appealed for offside, but to no avail.
It was merely a case of seeing the game out for Mexico from that point onwards. Mexico’s youngsters were tired and out of ideas, while Peru was happy to pass the ball around without breaking its neck to double the lead. Peru sits level on points with Chile at the top of Group C, while defeat leaves Mexico without a point after two group games.to get the latest soccer news directly. Check out Goal.com's page; be part of the best soccer fan community in the world!