Mexico earned a 2-1 victory over Nigeria in a friendly on Saturday night as El Tri launched a stretch of summer matches in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.
In front of 56,872 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Mexico took an early lead when Cruz Azul’s Santiago Gimenez found the back of the net in the 12th minute. Through an assist from Monterrey’s Jesus Gallardo, Gimenez’s shot pinballed between himself and goalkeeper Francis Uzoho before crossing the goal line.
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By the halftime whistle, El Tri found themselves with a narrow 1-0 advantage, but with eight shots in their favor in comparison to Nigeria’s total of zero.
The Super Eagles leveled the scoreline in the 54th minute through their first opportunity on target. Following a well-placed cross from Calvin Bassey, Cyriel Dessers forced an error from Mexican goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota, who fumbled the ball into his net.
Moments afterwards, Mexico would take the lead once again after their opposition made a mistake of their own. After a hard pass from Gallardo on the left flank, defender William Troost-Ekong accidentally launched the ball past his goalkeeper through a poor clearance.
Looking to extend the lead for his CONCACAF squad, manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino began to make substitutions in the second half that pushed his side further up the pitch. Although the introduction of substitutions like Diego Lainez, Erick Gutierrez and Orbelin Pineda helped create more chances in the final third, the scoreline remained once the final whistle was blown.
“As a striker, you’re always looking to score goals. Thankfully I scored today and I think that gives strikers a lot of confidence,” said Gimenez in the post-game press conference.
On Friday, Martino told media that he recently had a conversation with LA Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer who hasn’t earned a call-up since 2019, but also reiterated that he continues to have trust in attacking options like Gimenez.
“We see great potential in him,” said Martino after the match about the 21-year-old Cruz Azul player. “We’re happy with what he does every time he comes to the national team.”
Mexico will continue a busy slate of games with additional U.S.-based friendlies against Uruguay on June 2 in Glendale, Arizona, and Ecuador on June 5 in Chicago. El Tri will then kick off their 2022-23 Nations League campaign at home against Suriname on June 11 and away against Jamaica on June 14. Mexico will conclude the summer against Paraguay in a friendly on Aug. 31 in Atlanta.
Martino’s team landed in Group C for World Cup 2022 in Qatar, along with Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
Nigeria, who failed to qualify for Qatar, will face Ecuador in a friendly at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on June 2 before preparing for qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
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This post was originally published on June 10, 2022.