The coach was thrilled to see his set-piece ploys pay dividends as his captain inspired a win over Croatia, and believes CONCACAF sides deserve respect for their showingsMexico boss Miguel Herrera has revealed how a tactical ploy involving captain Rafael Marquez helped his side to a 3-1 win over Croatia and a place in the World Cup last 16.
The crucial Group A clash was goalless until shortly after the 70-minute mark when Marquez powered home a header from a corner past Stipe Pletikosa. The 35-year-old was on hand to flick another delivery into the path of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez to seal the win for El Tri.
Herrera has now admitted it was a planned decision to utilize Marquez's attacking strengths after the break following a frustrating first half, and he was delighted to see the plan work to perfection.
"I think this was a very good match, first half we lacked maybe a little daring play, we were pressured, thinking that the draw would let us qualify," he told a press conference in Recife.
PHOTOS: USA vs. Portugal | U.S. fan reactions | Beautiful people in Brazil
"We discussed at halftime to move Rafa up front at set pieces. We worked on set pieces and we reaped the benefits today. They weren't able to score, there was always somebody there, and then we scored from set pieces.
"We felt as if we were playing at home, the Brazilians have treated us beautifully. We will go back to our camp and they will welcome us.
"We're delighted to overcome the first hurdle, we're going to celebrate with families tonight, but tomorrow we're going to start thinking of the Netherlands match."
With Mexico set to face Netherlands in the last 16, USA sitting in a promising position to progress from Group G and Costa Rica having recorded stunning victories over Italy and Uruguay to top group D after two matches, Herrera believes CONCACAF qualifiers have earned a huge amount of respect for their performances in Brazil.
"It clearly shows that in our region we're getting strong," he added. "We desire the same treatment that is given to South America and Europe.
"CONCACAF is doing a good job and working well, four teams came to the World Cup, three are moving on. I think they all see us with more respect. Costa Rica have done great, the USA is a solid team, our region should also be seen in a good light."