Mexico came out hard, fouling the talented Frenchmen early and lighting up the left flank with quick runs toward goal.
They got the most chances early, rattling the veteran French defense and forcing careless mistakes.
That set the tone for the game: Mexico simply wanted it more.
Mexico's Giovani dos Santos almost scored in the first few minutes with a low drive that hit the post, but he was offside.
Then, teammate Guillermo Franco pulled the trigger after a nice move, but missed high right.
A few minutes later, Mexico's Carlos Salcido just missed the far post on a low left-footed strike. It was the first of two good chances from him.
France, meanwhile, controlled the midfield with some nice passing, but their attack was too slow to develop and was repeatedly broken up by a tough Mexican defense.
Neither team really got anything going in the early part of the second half, which spurred Mexico’s fiery coach Javier Aguirre to take the initiative by putting in warhorse Cuauhtémoc Blanco, the tournament’s oldest player.
Within a minute, Mexico scored.
Javier Hernández slotted in a gimme after France set an offside trap that failed to entice the linesman. Hernández found himself alone with the goalkeeper for a simple put-away no player should ever miss.
The offside call could have gone either way, and French fans will be upset to have their World Cup bid fizzle on a questionable decision by the officials.
Ten minutes later, though, Mexico’s victory was secured by none other than Blanco who placed a precision penalty kick inches from the left post.
Mexico will celebrate a well-deserved victory against a top team, and they head into their next match with Uruguay virtually assured of advancing to the next round.
France, ironically, will be rooting for Mexico in that match. They’ll need El Tri to crush a strong Uruguay team, coupled with a solid win over South Africa to squeak into the next round. The chances of both things happening are very slim.
Criticism of coach Raymond Domenech is sure to skyrocket. Why couldn’t he inspire the team? Why couldn’t he unite them? Why didn’t Les Bleues dominate opponents as they should?
France will have four long years in the wilderness to figure it out. Thankfully for the next coach, there won’t be any shortage of top talent to work with.
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