El Tri got a vital win to open up World Cup play, but it should have been a much bigger margin of victory.;Many doubted Mexico following a poor run in World Cup qualifying and two straight losses prior to arriving in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
But a strong showing from Giovani dos Santos and a goal from Oribe Peralta lifted El Tri to a convincing 1-0 victory over Cameroon in the opener on Friday
Goal's Seth Vertelney breaks down the highs and lows from the Group A match
Giovani dos Santos: The Villarreal attacker’s place in Miguel Herrera’s 5-3-2 had been questioned ahead of the World Cup, with some suggesting he may not receive much playing time in Brazil. With one game, Dos Santos completely obliterated all those doubts, and in the process showed he may be Mexico’s top attacking threat at this tournament.
The 25-year-old scored two goals in the first half, which both were wrongly disallowed (more on that in a minute), but that wasn’t all. He was the main attacking link in El Tri’s attack, playing just behind Oribe Peralta, and caused Cameroon’s defense problems all game long. Dos Santos played a key role in the game’s only goal, as his shot was saved by Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje, only for the ball to sit up nicely for Peralta to clean up the rebound.
Hector Moreno’s injury: During the first half, cameras showed the Espanyol defender clearly favoring his hamstring, and it was unclear if he would be able to continue. Luckily for Mexico, the 26-year-old was able to soldier on and finish out the match, but the injury will be a big worry if it lingers.
PHOTOS: Opening ceremony | Brazil protests | Soccer fanatics | Fan tattoos
Moreno is Mexico’s most indispensible defender. He reads the game extremely well and provides cover in case the slow-footed duo of Rafa Marquez and ‘Maza’ Rodriguez falter. If Moreno carries his injury through the rest of the tournament, Mexico’s chances will drop considerably.
The referees: Through two games of the World Cup the referees, unfortunately, have been the biggest storyline. Croatia was victimized by a soft penalty call against Brazil, and now Mexico feels the European nation’s pain. Dos Santos should have scored two goals in the first half, and instead he got nothing.
Both were close calls, but upon replay, it was clear that Dos Santos should have had a brace in the game’s first 32 minutes. The first call was a difficult one to make, as Cameroon’s outside back barely kept Dos Santos onside when the Villarreal man was far away in the middle of the pitch. However, the second miss was inexcusable. Dos Santos was well onside from a corner kick and even though the set piece was deflected, Gio was onside either way.
Dos Santos also had a big penalty shout a bit later that wasn't called. Of course, El Tri ended up wining the game, but those two goals may very well come into play if goal differential is a factor in Group A.