In Mexico's Group A opener Friday, Dos Santos showed why he earned the nod from coach Miguel Herrera. Partnering up top with Oribe Peralta as Hernandez started on the bench, Dos Santos was a nuisance for the full 90 minutes as El Tri squeaked out a 1-0 win over Cameroon.
Were it not for a pair of blown offside calls, Dos Santos would have had two goals in the first half. When Mexico finally got on the board in the 61st minute, it was Dos Santos who created the chance by again slipping into the gap between Cameroon's center backs. Although his shot was denied by Charles-Hubert Itandje, it forced the rebound that Peralta slotted home to open the scoring.
The goal came just minutes after a clever flick from Dos Santos teed up another golden opportunity for Peralta. The 25-year-old also had a case for a penalty kick when he was taken down late in the first half.
Throughout the match, Dos Santos thrived while drifting between Cameroon's midfield and defensive lines to facilitate, as well as pushing forward to make intelligent runs. Although there was some concern coming in that he was not well-suited to the withdrawn forward role in a 5-3-2, Dos Santos showed off the necessary creativity and positional awareness to unlock a conservative Cameroon side. And he also did well to track back as Mexico protected its lead late.
If Herrera gets that Dos Santos against Brazil and Croatia, Mexico will like its odds of making it out of the group stage for a sixth straight World Cup.