NATAL, Brazil (AP) — Mexico overcame the torrential rain and two disallowed goals to beat Cameroon 1-0 on Friday, picking up the three points it needed to have any chance of advancing from a tough group at the World Cup.
Oribe Peralta scored in the 61st minute, giving Mexico its first win over win over an African team at the World Cup and justifying coach Miguel Herrera’s decision to start him ahead of striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, arguably the country’s best known player.
He broke the deadlock just as thousands of Mexican fans were cheering for Hernandez to come into the game, swooping in with his left foot after Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje parried Giovanni Dos Santos’ attempt from the edge of the area.
Dos Santos twice put the ball in the net in the first half hour, only to have both efforts called back. He was ruled offside in the 11th minute and his header from a corner in the 29th was denied when referee Wilmar Roldan apparently called a foul in front of Itandje.
“We could have scored more, but unfortunately we’re not used to these conditions,” Herrera said. “Frankly, the refereeing took away two clear goals, but at the end of the day you’ve got to work for it, and we get to the next match with three points and very high spirits.”
Tournament host and favorite Brazil leads the group after a 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening game.
While the heat was expected to be an issue in this balmy coastal city, rain soaked the field starting about four hours before the match and never let up, creating a cool day but a slick surface. The conditions didn’t dampen the spirits of thousands of Mexico fans, who dominated the crowd and kept up boisterous chants and taunts throughout the match.
Cameroon seldom tested Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, but forced him to make a victory-clinching save when he dived to his left to stop an header by Benjamin Moukandjo.
The save was yet another big payoff for Herrera, who started Ochoa after the ‘keeper had been a reserve at the last two World Cups.
At the final whistle, Herrera kneeled, crossed himself and pumped his right fist. Cameroon coach Volker Finke stood with his arms crossed, scowling as the rain dripped off his face.
For the Cameroon players, the match was a chance to put behind them a bonus pay dispute that created so much turmoil back home and delayed their arrival in Brazil. But the loss and lackluster performance will only magnify the perception that the Indomitable Lions are a fractured team.
SALVADOR, Brazil — The Netherlands thrashed Spain 5-1 Friday, toying with the defending champions in the second half and gaining a measure of revenge for its 2010 loss in the World Cup final.
Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice and defender Stefan de Vrij grabbed his first international goal in a humiliating defeat for a Spain team that has won its last three major tournaments.
It was the worst loss for Spain in the game’s showcase tournament since a 6-1 defeat to Brazil in 1950.
In one game, Van Persie doubled his goal tally from the whole 2010 World Cup. The orange-clad Dutch fans at the Arena Fonte Nova gave him a standing ovation when he was substituted.
The victory was particularly sweet for Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, who was criticized for his decision to play five defenders against Spain. He insisted the formation had attacking potential as well as nullifying Spain’s fluent passing game.
It did. And then some.
At the end, Dutch fans were roaring “Ole” as their team passed the ball around and Spain chased them.
It all started so well for Spain, with Xabi Alonso converting a 27th minute penalty. But it went downhill fast after Van Persie tied the game with an unbelievable looping header shortly before half time. Daley Blind launched a 40-yard pass from near midfield, and Van Persie timed his leap perfectly to guide the ball gently over goalie Iker Casillas, who helplessly watched it go into the net.
Spain, which won the 2010 final thanks to an Andres Iniesta extra-time goal, exerted most of the pressure in the first half of the rematch, but had no answer once the Dutch went ahead and continually hit them on the break.
The final goal came after Robben weaved around Casillas — who was crawling on the grass in desperation — and fired into the untended net.