Six from La Liga played as Oribe Peralta sealed a 1-0 win for Mexico in their Group A opener against Cameroon at Estadio Das Dunes at the 2014 World Cup.
Villarreal’s Giovani Dos Santos was denied by Charles Itandje in the 61st minute, before Peralta was on hand to slot home the rebound and give the South Americans the perfect start in Natal.
Espanyol defender Hector Moreno featured for the whole match and Valencia midfielder Andres Guardado played 69 minutes for Miguel Herrera’s men, while former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez became the first player in FIFA World Cup history to captain his country at four separate finals.
Sevilla loanee Stephane Mbia played the full match for the Africans along with ex-Catalan striker Samuel Eto’o and Villarreal youth product Aurelien Chedjou. while former Osasuna and Mallorca midfielder Pierre Webo replaced Barca’s Alex Song in the 79th minute.
Dos Santos was wrongly denied two goals for offside in the opening half. The first came on 11 minutes when he brilliantly volleyed home Hector Herrera’s cross from the corner of the penalty area.
The second followed 18 minutes later from a corner that was flicked on at the near post, and although he was in an offside position when the ball reached him, it was Cameroon’s Maxim Choupo-Moting that got the decisive touch and not a Mexican.
Volker Finke’s side are appearing at an African record seventh finals but chances were limited for the Indomitable Lions. Their best chance of the half fell to their talisman Samuel Eto’o, who swept the ball against the post after some great work from Benoit Assou-Ekotto down the left.
Peralta had the first real opportunity of the second period, but was well denied by Itandje.
He made amends in the 61st minute though. Dos Santos latched on to a great through ball and was blocked by Itandje, but Peralta was on hand to slot home the rebound and give his side the lead.
This proved to be enough for the side who have reached the last 16 in each of the past five tournaments, though they have never been past this stage.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa maintained his side’s advantage in stoppage-time as he brilliantly held on to Benjamin Moukandjo’s goal-bound header. While at the other end unmarked substitute Javier Hernandez wasted a golden opportunity to put the match to bed, as he blazed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Nevertheless, the perfect start for the Mexicans and they will take confidence into their showdown with Brazil on Tuesday.