Jesus Corona, Raul Jimenez, Carlos Vela Lead Mexico to Friendly Win vs. Ireland

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2017

Mexico's Raul Jimenez celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick against Ireland during the first half of an international friendly soccer match, Thursday, June 1, 2017, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Mexico earned a 3-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland in an international friendly Thursday night in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Jesus Corona, Raul Jimenez and Carlos Vela scored for Mexico, while Stephen Gleeson gave Ireland a late consolation goal in the second half.

Mexico entered Thursday night coming off a disappointing 2-1 friendly defeat to Croatia last Saturday. Croatian coach Ante Cacic essentially used his "B" side, leaving out a number of his biggest stars.

While the loss didn't carry significant consequences, these friendlies are important for El Tri as they prepare for 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the 2017 Confederations Cup in June.

As such, Mexico supporters will have expected a strong response Thursday night, and that's exactly what they received.

Tecatito put Mexico ahead 1-0 in the 16th minute, and Jimenez doubled his team's lead in the 25th minute after converting from the penalty spot. 

Tecatito particularly gave Ireland trouble out wide prior to being subbed off in the 57th minute. Goal's Ives Galarcep is interested to see how he'll match up with the United States when the U.S. travels to the Estadio Azteca on June 11:

Vela provided Mexico's third goal in the 54th minute. Darren Randolph saved Oribe Peralta's initial shot, but Peralta got the rebound and slotted a pass across goal to Vela, who had an easy finish to make it a 3-0 game.

Vela was one of the best players on the pitch. The 28-year-old has had a somewhat icy relationship with the national team over the years, and supporters have long awaited the day when he'd carry his club form over to El Tri. 

ESPN FC's Tom Marshall saw encouraging signs from Vela's effort:

In addition to Vela, Burrito Hernandez was a pleasant surprise for Mexico in central midfield. He assisted on Tecatito's goal and delivered the pass to Vela prior to his drawing a foul in the 18-yard box, which led to Jimenez's penalty.

Both Goal's Jon Arnold and ESPN FC's Cesar Hernandez singled out Burrito for praise:

Gleeson got Ireland on the board in the 76th minute. Mexico nearly conceded a second a few minutes later before Rodolfo Cota gathered the ball and removed the threat.

The focus for Mexico will now shift to their World Cup qualifier against Honduras on June 1. El Tri are leading the hexagonal with 10 points through four matches, while Honduras are in fifth place with four points.

Thursday's victory will reassure supporters who had grown uneasy following the Croatia loss. While it wasn't a transcendent showing, Mexico never looked uncomfortable against Ireland and dominated for much of the match. It gives the team some nice momentum before they welcome in Honduras and the United States next week.