SOCHI, Russia – Mexico (1W-1D-0L, 4 points) rallied to earn a 2-1 win over New Zealand (0-0-2, 0) in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup on Wednesday at Fisht Stadium.
The result lifted the Mexicans into first place in Group A thanks to scoring more goals than Portugal (4-3), which beat host Russia (1-0-1, 3), 1-0, to remain unbeaten on four points. New Zealand was eliminated from contention with a game to play.
Oribe Peralta struck for the game-winner in the 72nd minute, but it was Javier Aquino who did all the hard work. The Tigres star burst down the left wing, beating defender Dane Ingham into the box. Thinking quickly – and before reaching the end line -- Aquino pulled the ball back for Peralta to left-foot inside the near post from seven-yards out. It was the 33-year-old’s sixth career goal against New Zealand.
The Kiwis took a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute, when some uneven defensive play by Mexico allowed Clayton Wood to deliver a splendid through ball into the path Chris Wood. Without hesitation, the 25-year-old Leeds United standout slammed his right-footed effort past Alfredo Talavera from 12-yards out. The goal was New Zealand’s first in 555 minutes of Confederations Cup play.
A brilliant shot by Raul Jimenez brought the sides on level terms nine minutes after the break. The outstanding Aquino dispossessed Ingham on the left and raced to the edge of the penalty area, where he squared a pass to Marco Fabian, who then did well to locate Jimenez on his right.
With his back to the goal, the Benfica forward received with his left foot and turned, before firing a right-footed rocket into the left side of the net despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic to make a save.
New Zealand nearly leveled late, only for Ryan Thomas to hit the crossbar.
As the match came to a close, a melee forced referee Bakary Gassama to issue three stoppage-time cautions, including a pair to Mexico.
Next up for Mexico: Saturday, June 24, 2017 v Russia