San Diego, March 23 (IANS) Mexico defeated two-time reigning Copa America champions Chile 3-1 here in Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s debut match as coach of El Tri.
Supporters of El Tri, frustrated to see the team failing to advance beyond the round of 16 at seven straight World Cups, hope that under the new coach, Mexico can at least reach the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, reports Efe news.
Martino, 57, led Paraguay to the World Cup quarterfinals in South Africa in 2010 and to the Copa America final the following year.
Much of the action in the first half of Friday night’s contest at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego took place in midfield, while Mexico started brightly, the initiative shifted to the Chileans.
Arturo Vidal forced a save from Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in the 14th minute and Chile got another opportunity in the 23rd minute, when a giveaway by El Tri set up Nicolas Castillo to go for goal, but defender Hector Moreno was there to head the ball away.
Four minutes into the second half, Vidal threatened again, only to see his shot sail over the cross-bar. Mexico’s Raul Jimenez came close seconds later and put his side ahead 1-0 in the 52nd minute, converting a penalty after Chile’s Pedro Hernandez committed a foul in the area.
Andres Guardado could have doubled the advantage two minutes later, but fired wide.
Mexico were dominant as the match entered the final third and settled the contest with a pair of goals just two minutes apart: Hector Moreno headed in a corner in the 63rd minute and Hirving Lozano scored with an assist from Rodolfo Pizarro in the 65th minute.
Castillo pulled back a goal for Chile in the 69th minute with help from Vidal.
El Tri will face Paraguay in a friendly next Tuesday, while Chile are set to play the United States.