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 champions on the verge of elimination.
Mexico’s inexperienced side found themselves at the receiving end of a Peruvian blitz in the opening mnutes 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 defence, but the back of the net was elusive, even to Peru, who 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 defence began to settle into the tie, standing in the way of any corners or through ball la Rojiblanca threw at them.
It was perhaps unsurprising that the first half ended with a stalemate once more – for all of Mexico’s determination, they rarely found themselves 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.
Peru sensed that three points could be on the cards. They 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 see the ball as he grew visibly frustrated.
Vargas saw an exquisite free kick strike the same post as his angled drive had previously done, before Michel made a fantastic save to deny Guerrero a headed goal.
Peru's breakthrough finally came with eight minutes to spare. Mexico failed to clear their 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 from that point onwards. Mexico’s youngsters were tired and out of ideas, while Peru were happy to pass the ball around without breaking their necks to double their lead.
The win allowed Peru to move level on points with Chile at the top of Group C, while defeat leaves Mexico rooted to the bottom of the group without a point after two group matches. However, they are still mathematically in the race to finish as the two best third-place finishers, but will need to beat Uruguay in their final game.