Angel Sepulveda and Hector Moreno sparkle for Mexico vs. El Salvador
Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio can rest easy after the 3-1 away victory against El Salvador on Friday night. Although El Tri already had a spot set for the final Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying beforehand, Osorio was eager for a win after a disappointing showing in this summer's Copa America Centenario. Mexico will now face Honduras in the Estadio Azteca next Tuesday to wrap up the third round of qualifying.
Even without injured stars like Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Jesus "Tecatito" Corona and numerous others, El Tri still found a way to score three goals against La Selecta. Newcomer Angel Sepulveda stepped up in his first start for the national team and was rewarded with one of the three aforementioned goals.
Mexico looked lost during the first 45 minutes of the match and had serious trouble connecting passes. Despite the fact that the team bounced back in the second half, there still seem to be lingering issues of morale after the embarrassing 7-0 loss to Chile in June.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- In order to show consistency, Osorio called up a roster that was very similar to the one seen during the Copa America. Due to this, and several unexpected injuries, the manager was forced to give the start to players like Jorge Torres Nilo and Hugo Ayala. Mexico walked away with a win, but many fans will be left wondering why the Colombian didn't use options like Raul Lopez, Cesar Montes or Erick Gutierrez.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK, Guillermo Ochoa, 7 -- Very little that Ochoa could do against the penalty in the first half. After La Selecta's lone goal, the Granada goalkeeper took charge of his area in net.
DF, Miguel Layun, 6.5 -- Layun was spraying crosses left and right on Friday night. The Porto player failed to connect on very many but proved to be a good source for attacking opportunities.
DF, Hugo Ayala, 4 -- A forgettable evening for the defender. Ayala struggled in the first half and had no work to do during the second half.
DF, Hector Moreno, 8 -- Along with a near-perfect evening defensively, Moreno also scored El Tri's first goal off a well-placed pass from Andres Guardado in the 52nd minute.
DF, Jorge Torres Nilo, 3 -- Mexico's worst player of the night. Torres Nilo was ineffective in the back line and provided the handball that led to El Salvador's goal in the 24th minute.
MF, Hector Herrera, 6.5 -- After an underwhelming first half that was filled with poor distribution, Herrera compensated with an improved second half that featured a better connection with his passing. The midfielder produced the assist for Sepulveda's goal in the 58th minute.
MF, Rafael Marquez, 5 -- A conservative performance from El Tri's captain. Marquez's days with the national team will soon be coming to a close after a bland evening.
MF, Andres Guardado, 6.5 -- Like Herrera, Guardado didn't make much of an impact until the second 45 minutes. The PSV Eindhoven player took control of the midfield during the second half and helped create Moreno's goal-scoring opportunity.
FW, Angel Sepulveda, 7.5 -- An exciting debut for the 25-year-old. Sepulveda had an endless amount of energy that was at times misguided, but also helped generate attacking opportunities. The newcomer scored Mexico's second goal of the match during the 58th minute.
FW, Raul Jimenez, 7 -- The striker was one of the hardest working players on the pitch. In a game that was filled with plenty of quiet progress, Jimenez's highlight will be a cheeky goal from a penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
FW, Javier Aquino, 6.5 -- Aquino was a headache for El Salvador's defense, but one that was also easily pushed off the ball through physical play. A decent evening for the Tigres player.
DF, Jesus Duenas, 6.5 -- Substituted in during half-time for Torres Nilo. Not much to say about Duenas after La Selecta calmed their attack during the second half. That said, the 27-year-old improved the back line after an inconsistent first 45 minutes from the defense.
FW, Candido Ramirez, 6 -- Substituted in during the 66th minute for Aquino. Ramirez had a couple of good passes in the second half, but was only given a cameo appearance for El Tri.
MF, Jesus Molina, N/A -- Substituted in during the 74th minute for Marquez.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.