On a rainy day in Natal, Mexico got their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign off to a strong start, defeating African side Cameroon by a score of 1-0. Oribe Peralta got the go-ahead goal in the second half, after Giovanni dos Santos had two goals called back for offside.
Peralta’s goal came after dos Santos picked up the ball from an onrushing midfielder and struck at the Cameroon keeper, who made the save but couldn’t hold onto the effort. The ball rebounded and fell kindly to Peralta, who had continued his run and slotted past the keeper to give Mexico the lead.
It was, in truth, a well-deserved win for Mexico, who controlled the game from the first minute to the last. Cameroon’s only chances came sporadically and beyond an offside goal in the first half and a late header – saved by Guillermo Ochoa – Cameroon’s chances were limited.
Mexico, on the other hand, controlled the lion’s share of possession and combined confidently in their passing, to the pleasure of the gathered fans, who happily shouted “Olé” in successive passing movements for the green-clad side.
Mexico manager Miguel Herrera opted to leave Javier Hernandez on the bench for this match, but his addition in the second half helped keep the offense clicking, especially at the end of the match when Cameroon were desperate for an equalizer.
It was the two Mexico offside goals that will be the main talking point, beyond the three points. The first came after a poor linesman call, where dos Santos looked to have been slightly onside. But, it was the second call that brought on the controversy; Mexico swung in a corner kick, which was headed across by a Cameroon defender and landed kindly to dos Santos, who tucked the effort home.
However, the referee once again awarded an offside, incorrectly, since the ball had been played by a Cameroonian head and did not touch a Mexican player on the way in. The offside rule does not apply until your own teammate touches the ball.
With two goals called offside, Mexico felt hard-done at half time, but in the second half, now dry after 45 minutes of intense rain, they mounted a 1-0 win, their first ever over African opposition. Mexico is now in a good position behind Brazil in Group A. They take on the Brazilians next on June 17 in Fortaleza.
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