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May 31, 2013

Chicharito scores 2 as Mexico ties

HOUSTON -- Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored twice as Mexico overcame a second-half deficit and, playing a man down for the final 63 minutes, drew with Nigeria 2-2 Friday night in an international friendly.

Hernandez now has 32 goals, good for fifth all-time on the Mexican national team, in 47 matches.

Despite the accolades and scoring twice, Hernandez deflected questions about himself.

"I don't like to talk about myself," Hernandez said. "It was a good game. It doesn't matter who scores. There are no heroes. We think about the team, about the group. Every game we try to get the three points."

Hernandez tied it at 2 in the 70th minute, getting a cross from Angel Reyna from the left side and tapping it inside the far post off the side of his right foot.

He was subbed out in the 73rd minute for Raul Jimenez to a standing ovation from the mainly pro-Mexican crowd of 62,107 at Reliant Stadium.

Hernandez said coming back to tie the game down a man was the most important part for the Mexicans because it gave them confidence that they can do it.

He gave Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute, taking a cross from Pablo Barrera from the right box and sending a low line drive inside the near post from 9 yards.

Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said he was happy with how his team handled being a man down.

"It's always important that your team be able to adapt to any circumstances," de la Torre said. "Everything that is in our hands, we are responsible. In a soccer game, there are many circumstances that are not in our hands, and many of which don't affect you and many of which do. Some of which you can't control, but you have to be able focus on what you can make a change on, and that's what my team did today."

Aide Brown Ideye converted a penalty kick inside the near post, freezing Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona to tie it in the 29th minute.

Nigeria earned the penalty kick in the 27th minute after Barrera was called for a hand ball inside the goalkeeper's box. Barrera was issued a straight red card. On the play, John Ugochukwu had the initial shot from outside the left 6-yard box stopped by Corona, but the rebound by Brown Ideye was stopped by Barrera's hand.

Nigeria capitalized on being a man up, taking the lead in the 40th minute as Ugochukwu's shot from outside the right box was deflected by Mexico's Diego Reyes and into the goal.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said being up a man did not mean his team was going to easily win.

"We should have won convincingly because they had 10 men and we had 11? It doesn't play out that way," Keshi said. "You have seen many games I'm sure where you have seen 10 men come back to win a game against 11. It's just how guys pursue yourself, how you address yourself on how you played. We were up, and we were thinking that was it. We lost our focus and concentration, and they came back to score."

Gerardo Flores had his header from the far post saved by Nigeria keeper Austin Ejide in the 62nd minute to keep Nigeria ahead.

Nnamdi Oduamadi had his shot from the right box bounce off the crossbar in the 63rd minute.

Mexico controlled most of the first 30 minutes of the game before Barrera was sent off.

Hernandez missed putting Mexico ahead in the ninth minute, sending a shot from inside the right 6-yard box off the crossbar.

Mexico is preparing for three World Cup qualifiers: at Jamaica on Tuesday, at Panama next Friday and home against Costa Rica on June 11. El Tri started the final round of qualifying in CONCACAF with draws against Jamaica, Honduras and the U.S.

After the qualifiers, Mexico goes to the Confederations Cup, where it plays Italy (June 16), host Brazil (June 19) and Japan (June 22).

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