It wasn't the cleanest or most convincing victory for Mexico, but El Tri came away with a 1-0 win over Ecuador in their international friendly on Saturday night.
Javier Hernandez's picturesque goal in the 14th minute was the difference, while Jose Corona came up with one key save after another, justifying his place in the starting 11.
Coming into the game, manager Miguel Herrera spoke about the value of this friendly for El Tri amid the controversy surrounding his choice to start Corona over Guillermo Ochoa, per Andrea Canales of ESPN FC:
For Mexico's team, wins are important. Our supporters always push for a victory, but we're also focused on playing well and looking at what the players demonstrate. We have to put together two rosters for two important tournaments this year. That will be based on these two games and what we see and observe from these players.
Well, Mexico came away with their win, and Corona came away with one heck of a performance to prove he's the man for the keeper job.
It certainly didn't take Mexico long to establish a lead. Chicharito snagged a turnover off Frickson Erazo, cut inside and let rip an absolutely stinging. That perfect shot hit the side bar and went into the net.
ESPN FC passed along the highlight:
Janusz Michallik summed up the shot quite succinctly:
As noted by ESPN Stats & Info, it was a goal with plenty of historical significance for Hernandez:
Mexico would struggle to create many more solid scoring opportunities after than in the first half and Ecuador really came into the game, though Corona was brilliant, coming up with several big saves throughout the half to preserve Mexico's lead.
At the half, Canales noted that Corona was El Tri's saving grace:
Chicharito continued to pose a threat for the Ecuadorian back line, though his teammates couldn't find him the service he needed to double the lead. Ecuador created a few very nice chances of their own, none bigger than earning a penalty in the 71st minute.
It was certainly a questionable call, as Diego Reyes clearly put his shoulder into Angel Mena and sent him to the floor, though the ball appeared to have been well out of Mena's reach. Still, the contact was obvious, and the referee pointed to the spot.
But Corona was the hero once again, stoning Miller Bolanos on the penalty. Bolanos' effort wasn't a great one, but Corona guessed correctly and dove in front of the shot, capping off a fantastic evening that earned him a well-deserved man of the match designation.
Here's the save via ESPN FC:
Raul Jimenez entered the game in the 76th minute and immediately brought a spark to Mexico's attack, nearly linking up with Chicarito for a goal in the 81st minute, but his header was knocked onto the bar by Alexander Dominguez and Mexico couldn't pounce on the loose ball.
Chicharito had another shot on goal in the 90th minute, but Dominguez was again up to the task.
For El Tri, getting Chicharito on track early in the year bodes quite well for the side, as a lack of playing time at the club level has affected him on the international stage. Between his performance and Corona's strong showing, Mexico has some real positives to take away from this contest, even if their defending was pretty rough at times.
Mexico will next face Paraguay on March 31 in another international friendly, while Ecuador will face Argentina on that same evening.