Carlos Salcido (C) of Mexico celebrates with teammates after scoring against Costa Rica during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at the National Stadium in San Jose, September 7, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate )
Mexico solidified its spot atop Group B in the World Cup 2014 Qualifiers with a resounding 2-0 victory over Costa Rica Friday night.
There was much controversy entering the match because of Mexican striker Javier Hernandez's recent poor form for his club team Manchester United. Would the young striker be able to carry the team offensively as in years past? Mexican coach decided to pair the striker with Olympic hero Oribe Peralta, but it made no difference as Mexico's midfielders and corner kick set pieces came to the rescue.
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The first savior was Carlos Salcido who is making a late career transition from fullback to midfielder. And on this night, he showed why his elite skills have made this transition so easy for him and the club. Andres Guardado threw in a corner, which was ricocheted away from goal by Francisco Rodriguez. But Salcido came in and volleyed the shot through a maze of defenders and into the far corner of the net to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute. It was a moment of absolute beauty.
In the second half, another corner kick would double the Mexico lead as Guardado sent in another corner kick that Jesus Zavala redirected over Costa Rican goal keeper Keylor Navas.
The win catapults Mexico to nine points in Group B. Costa Rica remains at second after El Salvador and Guyana drew 2-2, but Mexico's victory secures their reign atop the Group with only three matches remaining. They can gain a maximum of 18 points if they win the last three while Costa Rica can only obtain a maximum of 13 points. This means that all Mexico needs is either a Costa Rican loss coupled with a Mexican victory or a Mexican win and tie in the next three matches. El Salvador can only reach 11 points while Guyana can only obtain 10 points. Costa Rican can qualify with two wins in three games.