By FRANCO PANIZO
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If Mexico is a team in the midst of a heavy funk, it certainly did not appear that way on Wednesday.
Mexico cruised to a 4-1 victory over Ivory Coast in a friendly at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday night. Oribe Peralta paved the way for the impressive win in front of a crowd of 35,671, scoring twice in a dominant first half for El Tri.
Peralta netted Mexico’s second of the game in the 28th minute after intercepting a poor back-pass and firing it past Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry. Peralta then added his second of the match in the final minute of the first half, punctuating a picture-perfect counterattack with a header off a short cross from Giovani Dos Santos.
“I missed playing with the national team,” said Peralta. “I didn’t expect to have a night like this but a lot of the credit goes to the play of my teammates. We put a lot of pressure on Ivory Coast and that’s what helped us get the goals.”
The Santos Laguna striker also played a part in the opener in the 10th minute. El Tri worked the ball in from the left flank and it wound up at the feet of Peralta, who hit a square pass that Ivory Coast defender Arthur Boka frustratingly poked into his own net.
El Tri also gave the pro-Mexico crowd something to cheer about late. Angel Reyna collected a cross from the right side and calmly hit a shot to the far post, capping the scoring against a lackluster Ivory Coast team that only looked threatening once Mexico head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre made a slew of substitutions.
“I didn’t discover a team different from the one I saw in the Confederations Cup,” said Ivory Coast head coach Sabri Lamouchi. “Even though they were missing key players, they played the same way and with the same tactics. I wasn’t surprised by the level of Mexico tonight.”
The consolation goal for Ivory Coast came in the 61st minute. Didier Drogba, who entered the game at halftime, converted a penalty kick after referee David Gantar called a questionable handball against Mexico.
“I may have made a mistake with my starting lineup but if we could have done better with another team? I don’t know,” said Lamouchi. “We can kind of question starting other players but personally I’m not used to seeing my team performing like that and I’m really sorry for all the people from Ivory Coast who came out here tonight to see us.
“It’s really disappointing because a game like that against Mexico could have been a great feast for soccer.”
El Tri return to the field in September with a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers. They host Honduras at Estadio Azteca on Sept. 6 and then visit the red-hot U.S. Men’s National Team at Crew Stadium four days later.
What do you think of Mexico’s 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast? Is this what El Tri needed to break out of their funk? Still expecting the U.S. to grab three points against Mexico in September?
Share your thoughts below.