Mexico beats France 2-0 at World Cup


Associated Press

Posted on June 17, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 17 at 5:06 PM

POLOKWANE, South Africa (AP) — Substitutes Javier Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco scored a goal each Thursday in Mexico's 2-0 win over France at the World Cup, leaving the French on the verge of elimination from Group A.

Mexico went ahead in the 64th minute when Hernandez ran onto Rafael Marquez's pass and rounded goalkeeper Hugo Lloris before guiding the ball home. Hernandez's grandfather, Tomas Balcazar, scored for Mexico against France in the 1954 World Cup, although that was a consolation goal.

Blanco converted a penalty in the 79th after Eric Abidal fouled Pablo Barrera, who came on for the injured Carlos Vela in the first half.

"We have to enjoy this win," Marquez said. "We have to go step-by-step and be calm."

Mexico is now level on points with Uruguay, both with four. They play each other in the final group game knowing a draw will be enough for both to advance. France and South Africa both have one point, leaving both needing a win in their match Tuesday while hoping for a result in the other game.

"We're not going to go out of this tournament without winning a match," France winger Florent Malouda said. "It's shameful to lose like that. It's a question of saving our honor."

France winger Mathieu Valbuena said the players were inconsolable after the defeat.

"There were no words spoken, there's nothing you can say after a defeat like that," Valbuena said. "Of course it hurts a lot. But we have to forget this defeat and think about the South Africa match."

France coach Raymond Domenech said it was a similar feeling to the 2008 European Championship all over again, with a scoreless draw followed by a defeat, and his controversial six years as coach could end in more embarrassment.

"We feel a great disappointment and sadness," Domenech said. "We struggled. At the moment I really don't have an explanation for it.

"We should still be proud enough to look forward to winning our next match. There is still an infinitesimally small chance that we will go through."

Rival coach Javier Aguirre could be satisfied with his performance, as all three Mexico substitutes made an impact.

Mexico could have scored more against a French defense which looked shaky, with Abidal caught out of position on both goals. Abidal is normally a left back but Domenech picked him at center half alongside William Gallas.

Domenech changed his formation after the team's lackluster 0-0 draw against Uruguay last week, switching to a 4-2-3-1 lineup with Franck Ribery in the playmaker role behind striker Nicolas Anelka.

Aguirre chose a 4-3-3 formation and stuck with the same attackers that started in the 1-1 draw against South Africa, with Vela and Giovani Dos Santos in wide positions and Guillermo Franco in the center forward's role.

Sidney Govou's inclusion was a surprise to many observers after his poor performance against Mexico, but Domenech kept him on the right wing. Govou gave right back Bacary Sagna little protection, however, and Mexico soon figured out that pushing Salcido higher up the field was a dangerous option.

Jeremy Toulalan will miss Tuesday's match against South Africa for picking up another yellow card. Mexico's Efrain Juarez will have to sit out the match against Uruguay for the same reason, while Carlos Vela injured a hamstring and is unlikely to be available.

"Once again, we didn't create chances, Mexico deserved to win." Toulalan said. "It's hugely disappointing. We need a miracle now. We're in such a negative spiral at the moment."



France: Hugo Lloris, Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Eric Abidal, Patrice Evra, Sidney Govou (Mathieu Valbuena, 69), Abou Diaby, Jeremy Toulalan, Florent Malouda, Franck Ribery, Nicolas Anelka (Andre-Pierre Gignac, 46).

Mexico: Oscar Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido, Rafael Marquez, Ricardo Osorio, Gerardo Torrado, Guillermo Franco (Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 62), Carlos Vela (Pablo Barrera, 31), Hector Moreno, Efrain Juarez (Javier Hernandez, 55), Giovani Dos Santos.