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Mexico crushes Kiwis in playoff

Updated: 2013-11-15 07:43
By Reuters in Mexico City ( China Daily)

Mexico crushes Kiwis in playoff

Mexico thumped New Zealand 5-1 in the first leg of its qualifying playoff on Wednesday to take a massive step toward a place in next year's World Cup finals.

After scoring just three goals in its past four CONCACAF qualifiers at home, Mexico rediscovered its scoring touch in overwhelming the Oceania champion at Azteca Stadium.

"The team was sensational; I'm very happy because the lads did a phenomenal job, they gave their all," said Mexico coach Miguel Herrera.

"We needed an aggressive and dynamic team with lots of determination because we needed to win the match."

 Mexico crushes Kiwis in playoff

Mexico defender Rafael Marquez (foreground) celebrates after scoring against New Zealand during their World Cup intercontinental playoff match in Mexico City on Wednesday. Ronaldo Schemidt / Agence France-Presse

Defender Paul Aguilar opened the scoring for 'El Tri' in the 32nd minute and Raul Jimenez quickly tallied again to give Mexico a 2-0 lead at halftime.

Striker Oribe Peralta scored twice in the second half and Rafael Marquez added the fifth.

Chris James grabbed a late consolation goal for New Zealand, which will host the return leg in Wellington on Nov 20 with the winner advancing to next year's tournament in Brazil.

"The worst we can do is think it's settled," Peralta said.

"We must win there and we still have a lot to improve. We are a small step from getting what we are looking for."

Mexico has qualified for every World Cup since it hosted the finals in 1986, with the exception of 1990 when it was banned by FIFA after fielding ineligible players in a youth tournament.

The CONCACAF region's traditional heavyweight was minutes away from missing out on the playoffs altogether when it was beaten by Costa Rica last month but survived when Panama blew a 2-1 lead against the US, which qualified along with Costa Rica and Honduras.

Under the guidance of Herrera, its fourth coach of the qualifying campaign, Mexico had no problems overcoming New Zealand.

The Kiwis have only qualified for the World Cup twice before and the odds were heavily stacked against them with their captain Winston Reid ruled out of the playoffs because of an ankle injury.

"We're not at all overconfident, we're not thinking this is over, its a 0-0 draw for us and we're going to start from zero," Herrera said.

"It was important not to get desperate until we got the first goal. The team didn't lose concentration.

"I can see myself coming back on Nov 21 with the (World Cup) ticket."

(China Daily 11/15/2013 page24)

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