No one was more relieved than Giovani Dos Santos (other than, perhaps, the match officials) when Oribe Peralta swept the Villarreal attacker’s rebound into goal just after the hour-mark.
Dos Santos had a pair of goals incorrectly disallowed for offside during the first half, while Samuel Eto’o’s shot off the upright was as close as Cameroon came to scoring over the 90 minutes in Natal.
At the final whistle Mexico were 1-0 winners, and they were fully deserving of the three points.
Following are ratings and analysis for both sets of players.
Half-Time analysis for Mexico
Ochoa: Didn’t have a save to make in the first half.
Aguilar: Looking to get in behind Assou-Ekotto whenever he can.
Rodriguez: Hasn’t put a foot wrong in defense although his distribution could be better.
Marquez: No player on the pitch has touched the ball more often.
Moreno: Made an absolutely vital tackle with no one between him and the ‘keeper.
Layun: Combining with Guardado to torture Djeugoue.
Herrera: Looked to have picked up a late-period knock.
Vazquez: Misplaced just a single pass in the opening frame.
Guardado: Causing Cameroon’s right-hand side all sorts of problems.
Peralta: Had two goals incorrectly disallowed for offside.
Dos Santos: His teammates need to find a way to involve him more.
Full-Time analysis for Mexico
Ochoa: His first save was a spectacular one to deny Moukandjo’s header.
Aguilar: Stretched the Cameroon left throughout the encounter.
Rodriguez: Saved the three points with a vital touch on Moukandjo’s late cross
Marquez: Won all of his aerial battles in the first match of his fourth World Cup as Mexico captain.
Moreno: The only Mexico player to go into the book.
Layun: Quite nearly earned an assist when he set up Hernandez with an accurate cross.
Herrera: His side’s utility man, he bossed the centre of the park in Natal.
Vazquez: At the final whistle he had completed 94 percent of his passes.
Guardado: A rather more subdued second half before being withdrawn.
Peralta: Was never going to miss from in close following the rebound of Dos Santos’ shot.
Dos Santos: Tested Itandje with several second-half shots—one of which set up the only goal of the match.
Fabian: Introduced in favour of Guardado as Mexico looked to pack the centre of the park late on.
Hernandez: Missed a wonderful opportunity late on when he skied Layun’s cross.
Salcido: Featured for second-half stoppage time only.
Half-Time analysis for Cameroon
Itandje: Made one save but conceded a pair of disallowed goals.
Djeugoue: Finding Layun and Guardado to be a handful.
Chedjou: Completed all of his first-half passes.
Nkoulou: Has made a pair of tackles—one of which nearly cost his side a penalty.
Assou-Ekotto: Played in the accurate cross that Eto’o directed off the upright.
Mbia: He’s a nasty piece of business.
Song: Distribution has been good, but he’s not winning the ball back enough.
Enoh: Has so far won everything in the air.
Moukandjo: Only 14 touches so far on the right-hand side of the attack.
Choupo-Moting: Has been his side’s best attacking option so far.
Eto’o: His one shot in the first half hit the post.
Full-Time analysis for Cameroon
Itandje: Made three saves on the day—one of which he pushed into Peralta’s path.
Djeugoue: Withdrawn at the restart in favour of Nounkeu.
Chedjou: Distribution out of defense was superb.
Nkoulou: Contributed three tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
Assou-Ekotto: When Cameroon eventually find a breakthrough it will come via the Assou-Ekotto-Choupo-Moting corridor.
Mbia: Exceptional rate of passing, although he created few clear-cut chances.
Song: Passing was decent, but he was sacrificed for the more attack-minded Webo with 11 minutes remaining.
Enoh: Committed too many fouls.
Moukandjo: Could have scored twice in the late stages.
Choupo-Moting: Cameroon’s best attacker wasn’t used nearly enough.
Eto’o: Faded away after hitting the upright in the opening frame.
Nounkeu: A noticeable upgrade on Djeugoue.
Webo: Only eight touches in a late cameo.