Carlos Vela's 7/10 leads Mexico as El Tri's attackers shine vs. South Korea
Mexico once more established itself as a force for this World Cup with a 2-1 win over South Korea on Saturday.
With Hirving "Chucky" Lozano again leading the way and goals from Carlos Vela and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, El Tri curbed the hopes of a South Korean side that sought to counter its opponent with speed. Under an intense heat at Rostov Arena, Mexico secured its second victory in as many tries. El Tri will sit uncontested atop Group F as it awaits its third match of the opening round.
Mexico had the upper hand throughout. It was a solitary shining moment that propelled El Tri over Germany, but it was clearly in command for much of the victory over Korea.
The finishing touch is still lacking. Mexico is capable of winning by larger margins if not for struggles in the final third of its matches. Still, "Chicharito" was able to come through on a second-half opportunity on the afternoon.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Juan Carlos Osorio's game plan neutralized Korea's speed and capitalized on Mexico's. He bet on Edson Alvarez over Hugo Ayala to start, and it paid off. His system also worked to his advantage in the second half. His changes seemed questionable but ultimately worked out. Not perfect, but close.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Guillermo Ochoa, 6 -- A strength in net. Kept in mind South Korea's speed whenever they crossed midfield. Was just able to get a hand on a first-half threat. An overall great effort from "Memo". Not much he could do about the late goal against.
DF Edson Alvarez, 5 -- Mexico's shakiest player. South Korea's speed bested him on two occasions, and their passing crossed him up on another. His teammates' efforts covered for him.
DF Carlos Salcedo, 6 -- A defensive stalwart. Gave it his all, with the only hiccup being a fast Korean opportunity whose speed he couldn't challenge. Aside from that, he was confident and strong.
DF Hector Moreno, 6 -- A good showing from the full-back. He covered well and formed a barrier with Salcedo. Was briefly involved in an attack and did well during Mexico possessions.
DF Jesus Gallardo, 5 -- The left side was a struggle this time around. Neither he nor Lozano could do much there. Wasn't involved in many plays up front, but did well overall.
MF Hector Herrera, 6 -- The midfielder pulls El Tri's strings. Precise with his long passing, although they weren't effective in the pitch's final third. Battled in the back and up front. Another good game for the Porto captain.
MF Andres Guardado, 6 -- His tenacity and quality are undeniable, the motor in Mexico's midfield. Battled up top and down below. Missed on a chance that would've been the dagger for Mexico. Was ultimately substituted.
MF Miguel Layun, 6 -- Not much was happening on the right side but had a few splendid moments in defense. Had an uncontested opportunity, but Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo would have none of it. Was in lockstep with Lozano in the attack.
FW Hirving Lozano, 7 -- His level of play was again top notch, shining in the attack as well as in defense. Set up an opportunity in the first half that would've capped an excellent period. Picked apart the Korean defense and assisted on Hernandez's goal.
FW Carlos Vela, 7 -- Mexico's shining light, up front and in the back. Executed his penalty perfectly, but his brilliance on the afternoon came at midfield. Came close on another opportunity. Shared best-player honors on the afternoon with "Chucky".
FW Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, 7 -- A complicated situation for Mexico's scoring threat since the South Koreans clogged up the middle, but he converted his only opportunity in grand fashion.
MF Rafael Marquez, 4 -- Didn't take Guardado's spot to boost the attack but rather Mexico's midfield. Didn't stand out much but ran the defense. The Korean goal was his responsibility.
FW Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, 4 -- Solid effort, but not much to show for it. Replaced Lozano on the left side.
FW Giovani dos Santos, 4 -- The bar was set high when he came on for Vela, but his performance went unnoticed.