The Mexican national team defeated South Korea 4-0 at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday in an international friendly match. Mexican coach Miguel “Piojo” Herrera had a squad with many youth players from the domestic league and defender Diego Reyes from Portuguese side Porto FC.
The shining star was Alan Pulido of Tigres UANL who debuted with the senior squad scoring a “hat trick” against the Republic of Korea. Also making a great impression on the pitch were Leon FC’s Carlos “Gulit” Peña, and Toluca FC’s U.S. born Isaac Brizuela. But Pulido was the man of the night.
“I have to keep playing with the same mentality and be humble,” Pulido said after the game when asked if he’d made a great impression on Herrera. “There are still a lot of games to play. Things worked out tonight, we won, but I still have to keep playing hard.”
The game began with El Tri a bit on the lazy side giving up possession to the South Koreans. The speedy Asian squad did not think twice and took advantage of Mexico’s laid-back attitude. Within a few minutes Korea had made several threatening runs on Alfredo Talavera’s net. The Mexican defense held their ground and were able to keep the Koreans at bay.
As the clock ticked forward Mexico began to take possession pushing Korea back to their side of the field. However, the Tigers were still dangerous and managed to mount counterstrikes on El Tri. Korea could not get close enough to the net and decided to fire from outside the area sending the ball over the crossbar. Shin Wook Kim had the best opportunity for the Asians when he moved past the Mexican defense but fired straight at Talavera who stopped the ball with ease.
It cost them a few scares, but in the 37th minute the Mexicans came together to put the ball in the net. Miguel Ponce took the ball down the left side near the penalty box and centered. Oribe Peralta received the ball with his back to the net. He stopped the ball, assessed his situation, and spun to beat Kim Seung-Gyu at point blank range. They suffered to get there, but Mexico got on the board.
The goal brought new life to “Piojo” Herrera’s team. The Koreans moved their lines forward allowing spaces for El Tri. Peña received the ball close to the goal line in the box on a set piece. Peña centered to Pulido who pushed the ball but hit a sliding defender. Pulido insisted on the play and pushed it into the net for the 2-0 at the 45 +1.
Koreans maintained higher possession of the ball in the second half, but left many spaces that the Mexicans did not take advantage of. In fact the Asian squad was in clear control of the ball. But control doesn’t win games. The Mexican defense was still on mark again forcing the Koreans to fire from long distance.
The Mexican squad retook the pitch slowly and by the 77th minute they had pushed the Koreans back to their side if the field. The speedy Asians were running out of steam and holding on for a counterstrike. With 10 minutes left in regulation Mexico was in full control and it looked like El Tri would get at least one more.
Brizuela took the ball into the area pressing past three Korean defenders. He reached as far as he could before crossing into the out-of-bounds line and passed back. Pulido was already inbound and fired a rocket past Seung-Gyu for the 3-0 in the 85th.
The Korean keeper had the opportunity to show his prowess in the 89th minute. Seung-Gyu looked like a hero for about five seconds as he stopped two shots from the Mexican strikers, but could not clear the ball far enough. The rebound landed in front of Pulido. The Tigres UANL player had no pity against the keeper’s hard efforts and once more hammered the ball into the net for the final 4-0.
Mexico will face Nigeria on March 5, 2014 in their match which is scheduled on a FIFA date. Herrera will be able to count with his European-based players for that game that is scheduled to take place in Atlanta. South Korea continues their tour of the United States and will wrap up on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 against Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT.