If Mexico fails to escape Group A on goals, fans of El Tri could point directly to Friday’s dominant-but-unrewarded first half as a key moment in the tournament.
Mexican forward Giovani dos Santos had two first-half goals disallowed — at least one unfairly — as Cameroon was fortunate to make its way to a scoreless halftime at the Arena das Dunas in Natal.
But Miguel Herrera’s decision to keep Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez on he bench eventually paid off, as the match’s best player played a major role in Mexico’s goal.
Dos Santos was through on goal, and his hard attempt rebounded off Cameroon keeper Charles Itandje and right to Oribe Peralta. Mexico’s best finisher did just that, and it was 1-0 in the 61st minute.
The first 45 minutes were decidedly-slanted in Mexico’s favor, in terms of the run of play. The officials had the pitch going more in the way of El Tri’s African opponents, whose sloppy and disorganized opening was allowed to skate free of damnation.
Disallowed goal No. 1 came after just 11 minutes, as dos Santos scores a goal on a beautiful cross, but is ruled offsides. It was a bout of brutal work by the linesman, and FIFA’s history has us wondering what’s on the official’s mind?
Disallowed goal No. 2 was more understandable… at least in super slow motion. Dos Santos was ruled offsides again when a Cameroon player barely flicked a corner into his path before the finish.
In between the disallowed goals was Cameroon’s best chance, as Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s left-footed cross was near-perfect for Samuel Eto’o, who fired wide left (just skimming the post)
The second half brought one substitution for Cameroon, as Dany Achille Nounkeu took the place great flick by dos Santos sends Oribe Peralta in on goal, but Itandje get a piece of a low shot with his legs.
The first yellow card of the game came in the 57th minute, after Moreno took down Cameroon’s Stephane Mbia about 28 yards out from goal. Assou-Ekotto’s free kick was deflected off the wall and briefly appeared headed for glory, only to go wide of the frame.
Eto’o won a corner for Cameroon in the 80th minute, its fourth. It was a dangerous ball, but sailed through the box untouched.
Cameroon found a couple good chances late, but Guillermo Ochoa made a leaping save of a snapped-header by Moukandjo.
Hernandez butchered a chance to give Mexico a goal in the third minute of stoppage time.
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Mexico: Ochoa, Aguilar, Rodríguez, Moreno, Márquez, Layún, Vázquez, Guardado (Fabian, 69′), Herrera (Salcido, 90’+2), Dos Santos, Peralta (Hernandez, 73′)
Goals: Peralta (61′)
Cameroon: Itandje; Nkoulou, Djeugoue (Nounkeu, 46′), Chedjou, Assou Ekotto; Song (Webo, 79′), Mbia, Enoh, Choupo Moting, Moukandjo, Eto’o