(Sunday, June 27th)
Final Score: Argentina 3, Mexico 1
Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain scored in a seven-minute stretch midway through the first half, and Argentina beat Mexico, 3-1, on Sunday at Ellis Park Stadium to return to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup.
Tevez added a second goal early in the second half and Javier Hernandez scored Mexico's lone goal in the 71st minute.
"It was a strange and pretty tense match," Argentina coach Diego Maradona said. "We know each other well but we also knew that if we could attack certain areas, then we'd get something out of it, which we did. I think Argentina were the better side over the 90 minutes and we didn't have any real scares. All I can do is congratulate the players because they're doing things well, playing the ball around and enjoying themselves. The team looked comfortable out there, despite the quality of the opposition."
Argentina also defeated Mexico in the round of 16 four years ago, and will try to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time since finishing second in 1990, when it lost in the final to West Germany.
Argentina plays Germany in the quarterfinals Saturday. Germany advanced with a 4-1 win over England on Sunday. Argentina and Germany met in the quarterfinals four years ago, with Germany winning on penalty kicks.
Mexico was eliminated in the round of 16 for the fifth straight time.
"I thought we were pretty evenly matched going into the game and Mexico probably edged it in the first few minutes," Mexico coach Javier Aguirre said. "We had a couple of chances but then we let one in, and just as we were trying to come back from that they scored another. Those two mistakes really changed the course of the game, though the team played with a lot of dignity and tried hard to come back. We almost made it to 3-2 but there's not much else you can say really. We need to keep working because we've got a generation of very good players here. We need to make the most of them and get back to the World Cup in four years time."
The Mexicans enjoyed the better chances early, but Carlos Salcido had his long shot tipped off the crossbar by Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero and Andres Guardado curled a shot just wide of the left post.
Lionel Messi forced a save from Mexico goalkeeper Oscar Perez, then Hernandez drilled a long shot wide right before Argentina seized control of the match on a goal that should not have counted in the 26th minute.
Messi and Tevez combined on the initial chance that led to Argentina's opener, as Tevez had the ball taken off his feet by Perez just inside the box. But the ball deflected back to Messi, who played a short chip pass to an open Tevez.
Tevez, who was a few yards offside when Messi played the ball, headed it into an empty net from a few steps out. Referee Roberto Rosetti consulted his sideline official and players from both teams huddled around, but the goal stood.
Argentina doubled its lead in the 33rd minute when Higuain took advantage of a turnover by Mexico's Ricardo Osorio, who misplayed the ball just outside the area. Higuain took the ball into the box, rounded Perez, and slotted home for his tournament-high fourth goal.
Higuain nearly added another goal before the break, but Osorio got a piece of the ball just before Higuain's header, and the shot went wide left.
Mexico came close to pulling a goal back before halftime, but Hernandez was just inches away from directing a cross on goal from close range.
Tevez handed Argentina a three-goal lead seven minutes into the second half as he struck a 25-yard shot into the top-right corner that left Perez no chance.
Hernandez had a free header in the 63rd minute but fired over the bar and then a cross from Pablo Barrera was sent on goal in the 70th for Mexico but Gabriel Heinze cleared it off the line for Argentina.
Mexico did pull a goal back in the 71st, when Hernandez accepted a pass at the top of the area with his back to goal, made a quick turn toward the left post, drove into the area and then finished well to the near post from 10 yards.
Heinze made another fine defensive play on the line to clear a dangerous ball 10 minutes from time, and Argentina held on over the final 10 minutes for its fourth win in as many games.
06/27 20:19:14 ET