Javier Hernandez hit his 50th international goal as Mexico edged closer to progression from World Cup Group F with a 2-1 victory over South Korea.
Mexico’s all-time leading scorer was well marshalled by South Korea’s defence for much of Saturday’s clash in Rostov-on-Don, but took his chance when it came in the 66th minute, slotting home in composed fashion at the culmination of a wonderful counter-attack.
Hernandez’s goal was nothing less than Mexico, who beat defending champions Germany 1-0 last time out, deserved following another accomplished performance, with South Korea having rallied following Carlos Vela’s 26th-minute penalty.
It was not always smooth sailing for Juan Carlos Osorio’s side, though, with Lee Yong and Son Heung-min passing up presentable opportunities in the early stages.
However, Jang Hyun-soo’s handball gave referee Milorad Mazic little choice but to point to the spot – the number of penalties awarded in Russia consequently surpassing the 13 across the entirety of the previous World Cup – and Vela, who announced the death of his grandfather following the win over Germany, converted.
Hernandez’s strike means Mexico will progress to the last 16 if Germany fail to beat Sweden, with Son Heung-min’s added-time stunner not enough to stop South Korea staring at a potential group-stage exit.
South Korea XI: Jo Hyeonwoo; Kim Minwoo, Kim Younggwon, Jang Hyunsoo, Lee Yong; Hwang Heechan, Ki Sungyeung (C), Ju Sejong, Moon Seonmin; Son Heungmin, Lee Jaesung.
Subs: Kim Seunggyu, Kim Jinhyeon, Jung Seunghyun, Oh Bansuk, Yun Youngsun, Park Jooho, Kim Shinwook, Lee Seungwoo, Koo Jacheol, Hong Chul, Jung Wooyoung, Go Yohan.
Mexico XI: Ochoa, Salcedo, Moreno, Herrera, Alvarez, Layun, Guardado (C), Gallardo, Vela, Hernandez, Lozano.
Subs: Jose Corona, Talavera, Ayala, Marquez, Gutierrez, J. Dos Santos, Fabian, Jimenez, G. Dos Santos, Jesus Corona, Peralta, Aquino.