Mexico thrashes New Zealand in World Cup playoff
Mexico City, Mexico (SportsNetwork.com) - Mexico all but wrapped up a berth in Brazil for next summer's World Cup on Wednesday after cruising to a comfortable 5-1 rout of New Zealand at the Azteca Stadium in the first leg of their intercontinental playoff tie.
Mexico struggled mightily through the CONCACAF hexagonal round and needed a miraculous 3-2 United States win over Panama on the final day of group play to finish fourth.
But El Tri finally looked like itself in front of the home fans and had the better of the play through the first 30 minutes before finally getting rewarded for their efforts.
After creating several quality scoring chances, the home side opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when New Zealand defender Andrew Durante headed a cross out of the box, but it fell to the feet of Mexico's Paul Aguilar, who fired it into an empty net.
The hosts collected the all-important second goal five minutes before the intermission when Luis Montes served an exceptional corner kick into the penalty area that was flicked on by Carlos Pena before an unmarked Raul Jimenez nodded it past Kiwis goalkeeper Glen Moss.
After the break, El Tri made it 3-0 in the 48th minute as Rafa Marquez sent a long ball down the left flank to Miguel Layun. Layun took a touch to control and found Oribe Peralta wide open in the box for the tap in.
Peralta completed his brace 10 minutes from time and Marquez added a goal in the 84th minute to make it 5-0 before New Zealand finally earned a consolation goal in the 85th minute through a fantastic half-volley from Chris James.
But Mexico was able to see out the last five minutes to claim the victory, while New Zealand has a huge mountain to climb when the sides meet in Wellington on Nov. 20.
11/13 17:27:38 ET