Mexico defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in the second leg of their 2014 World Cup qualifying match. The victory increases their lead in Group B with one match left to play in October.
It was an expected victory after Mexico won the first leg 2-0 and the return home gave them a tremendous advantage Tuesday night.
The first half ended with no score for either side. Andres Guardado and Jesus Zavalo had a few chances to break open the scoring, but couldn't beat Costa Rican keeper Keylor Navas.
All in all, Costa Rica owned the first half. El Tri couldn't maintain possession and they were sloppy.
The second half started the same way. Mexico didn't regain their form from the first leg, and Navas came up with a few huge saves in the early minutes.
Mexico's goal in the 61th minute came when Navas missed a cross from Torres Nilo that landed on Javier Hernandez's head. He finished, giving his squad the decisive goal.
The latter part of the game came down to ball control for Mexico, and they were finally able to execute. They attempted a few counterattacks after gaining the lead, but were primarily focused on defending their slim margin.
The plan paid off, and they will face Guyana in the next game.
Mexico wasn't nearly as dominant on Tuesday night, but you have to win all kinds of games in order to be successful.
Let's hand out some grades and check out the goal from this qualifier.
I wish I had more highlights for you, but I did manage to dig up Hernandez's game-winning goal:
Keylor Navas: A
Navas played an excellent game, despite taking the loss. His squad overachieved for most of the match and he was a big reason they were able to do so.
Navas made sure his team stayed even and he made a few huge saves early in the second half. He couldn't control Nilo's cross, but he was under pressure all game long.
The Costa Rican keeper did a wonderful job under the circumstances on Tuesday.
Cristian Bolanos: C
Bolanos was the sole bright spot in the first leg for Costa Rica, and he was relatively quiet in this one. The Mexican defense tightened up, and they made sure someone else would have to beat them.
The Costa Rican attack couldn't get anything going in the offensive third, but they had their chances. If Bolanos could have broken through, this match could have ended a lot different.
Andres Guardado: B+
Guardado is one of Mexico's best scorers and he had several close calls Tuesday night. He handled himself better than any of his teammates in the passing department, as well.
One play sticks out in Guardado's game. In the first half, he nearly put one in the net from midfield. Navas jumped to save it, but it barely cleared the crossbar.
Guardado's confidence gives him an advantage in games like this. He plays fearless football, and he was the only player holding his team together at times.
Javier Hernandez: A
In a game with only one goal, the lone scorer gets an A. Hernandez was sloppy in the midfield for most of the night, but his header on Nilo's cross was beautiful.
Big-game players step up when their team needs them the most and Mexico needed a score. Scoring in the 61st minute put his team on the path to victory and ensured his high grade.
Jesus Zavala: B
Zavala was all over the place Tuesday night, but he failed to finish on several occasions. I'd give him an A for effort, but his production could have been much better.
Navas didn't make things easy on Zavala, but his touches were a bit off. He made crisp passes here and there, but a close game requires scoring from someone.
Hernandez picked up the slack. If not, Zavala would regret his missed opportunities.
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