by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 23rd 2014)
Miguel Herreraʼs team had yet to concede a goal ahead of their clash with Croatia this evening. Unfortunate to still be on level terms at half time they took control in the second half during a devastating ten minutes that put paid to Croatiaʼs hopes. Former Barçelona stalwart Rafa Márquez Álvarez opened the scoring on 72 minutes.
Márquez beat Vedran Ćorluka in the air to meet Héctor Herrera Lópezʼ corner and head past Croatiaʼs veteran goal-keeper Stipe Pletikosa to give México the lead. Three minutes later Valenciaʼs Andrés Guardado doubled their lead. Substitute Javier Hernández Balcázar fed Oribe Peralta Morones – the player confining him to the bench. Peralta fed Guardado at the far post.
That made it 2-0. Croatia committed more forward and were caught out for a third time. With less than ten minutes remaining Márquez flicked on a corner for Hernández to nod in. Croatia managed a consolation five minutes later. Ivan Perišić latched on to Ivan Rakitićʼs sublime back-heeled assist to blot Guillermo Ochoa Magañaʼs record of not having conceded.
He almost seemed to take conceding as a personal affront. Minutes later Perišić volleyed from point blank range, but Ochoa somehow thwarted him. Meanwhile, substitute Ante Rebić was shown a thoroughly well deserved red card for a disgraceful challenge on Carlos Peña Rodríguez. It summed up Croatiaʼs match. Less than ten minutes before Márquez opened the scoring Guardado was denied a stone wall penalty when Dario Srna handled. It wasnʼt the only hand-ball that the officials led by Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov missed. Danijel Pranjić handled Herreraʼs corner, but was not penalised. Herrera also hit the crossbar with a 25 yard effort in the first half. México will face the Netherlands and Brasil will play Chile in the last sixteen.