After much speculation and poor performances, Mexico was able to bring its fans some joy, by defeating a star studded Ivory Coast team 4-1 in American soil. Sure, the first half Ivory Coast was playing with their utility players, but Chepo de la Torre's squad was also missing some of its bigger names like Javier Hernández and Andrés Guardado just to name a few.
It was almost as if Mexico was playing in their own field and not in a foreign country, but that’s how it always is when the United States host a match with their neighbors from the south. The atmosphere in the New Jersey, MetLife Stadium was green, white and red and El Tri’ kickstarted this game full throttle.
Ivory Coast benched their superstars Drogba, Kalou, Gervinho and Traoré and if that wasn’t enough, Yaya Toure was out on an injury. Mexico made the most out of this circumstances and it took them only 10 minutes to open the scoreboard. Ángel Reyna crossed to the penalty box, looking for Oribe Peralta who lost the ball, but to everyone’s surprise, the ball found Arthur Boka who accidentally turned in the ball for an own goal.
The own goal definitely hurt Ivory Coast’s confidence and the first half was set from that moment on.
On minute 23, the match was stopped momentarily, because of a security issue on the crowd, but it was resumed 1 minute later. Mexico took advantage of the confusing situation and 4 minutes later, ‘El Cepillo’ Peralta would finally get his name on the scoresheet. Dos Santos pressure on Gosso, forced him to pass back to the goalkeeper but the ball was intercepted by Peralta, whose first touch sunk the ball in the top right corner of the net.
Things started to get really heated with 3 cautionary cards in just two minutes. Sol Bamba’s unlawful challenge on Dos Santos paid off, as the referee blew the whistle on the foul after the ball had already been crossed to Reyna who had a clear shot towards goal.
Mexico was not intimidated by the African country’s tactics and managed to score once more just before halftime. This time it would be Giovani Dos Santos who crossed the ball so Peralta could easily head it for the 3-0
Sabri Lamouchi’s side would not go down quietly and made substitutions in order to stand a chance against a magical Aztec squad, who was having the night of their life.
The presence of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou on the field gave Ivory Coast a much needed confidence boost, but the mariachi bands were still playing loudly, unfazed by the omnipotence of a legendary player like Drogba.
10 minutes into the game, Mexico gave their first warning, when Ángel Reyna’s wide shot was deflected by Peralta into the back of the net. Fortunately for the African team, the linesman raised his flag to call the offside.
The Ivory team shook off that close call and forced a foul near the penalty box for a free kick. Drogba fired the ball into the Aztec wall and according to the referee, Gerardo Torrado used his arm to stop the ball. It was a questionable call, but the penalty kick was granted regardless. Didier fooled Corona and fired the other way to give the African side their first goal.
Ivory Coast, was back in the game, but Mexico’s consistency didn’t drop and continued looking for a fourth goal, even forcing their star striker Drogba to play a more defensive role.
Just a minute before the regulatory time, Ángel Reyna would get his goal, after an amazing performance. He took down a cross and fired a low shot into the far post to reaffirm Mexico’s dominance.