After a disappointing draw at home against Canada, Mexico went back to their winning ways to get a strong 3-0 win over Honduras. Mexico dominated the match for 90 minutes and had a number of misses in what should have been a bigger win for Mexico, especially after Honduras went down to ten players in the second half. Yet Mexico gave their best performance so far in World Cup Qualifying, and the result was huge after having such a dispiriting performance against Canada on Thursday. Mexico will now have a tough away trip to San Salvador where they will face a team that needs to win and the most hostile crowd for the Mexican team in Central America. Honduras will return home where they will face a match between bottom feeders as they face last placed Jamaica.
The first half started with Sebastian Cordova and Hector Moreno starting for Andres Guardado and Nestor Araujo, who had poor games against Canada. Mexico had a good opportunity when a pass for Jesus Corona could have allowed a one-on-one, but it went too wide. Corona was forced to cross, and it was cleared by the Honduras defense. Mexico then wasted an incredible chance when after a bad clearance by Honduras, Luis Rodriguez got a cross to a wide open Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, whose diving header went wide in a terrible miss. Mexico continued to dominate as Honduras sat back. Then after that sequence, a great pass from Hector Herrera to Corona forced Honduras keeper Luis Lopez to come out and deflect the ball right into the path of Lozano, whose shot was stopped on the line by a Honduras defender. Trying to clear the ball, it fell to Sebastian Cordova, who got a right footed shot into the net for the 1-0 lead. Mexico then had another chance when Corona made a good move and got a great cross that Raul Jimenez headed, but it hit the post. There was a foul by Marcelo Pereira on Lozano that was called a yellow card, but replays showed that it was straight punch and should have been red. Later there was a clash between Maynor Figueroa and Luis Rodriguez that also looked like a possible red, but no foul was called. A cross by Rodriguez turned into a shot that Lopez deflected for a corner kick. and Mexico continued to pressure on a Honduras side that couldn’t get any offense going and sat back. Jimenez got off a left footed shot that Lopez was able to save. After a great combination play, Lozano got off a shot but it went wide. Mexico wasted a great opportunity when Lozano got into the area and got off a shot that forced Lopez to make a great save. Mexico continued to dominate, but couldn’t get a better chance and the half ended with only a 1-0 lead.
The second half started with Honduras subbing out Brayan Moya and Danilo Acosta for Alexander Lopez and Alberth Elis. After a couple of early minutes where Mexico dominated, Jimenez almost had a one-on-one but Maynor Figueroa took him down and the referee correctly judged him to be the last man, giving him a red card. Mexico continued to dominate against a Honduras that kept sitting back and looking for the counter. Mexico had a good opportunity, but Jimenez’ right footed shot went wide. Mexico then made three moves by subbing out Sebastian Cordova, Raul Jimenez, and Jesus Corona for Orbelin Pineda, Rogelio Funes Mori, and Alexis Vega. Lozano then tried a mix between shot and cross that Lopez was able to save. There was a great cross to a wide open Vega, but he failed to connect with the ball. After a great combination play in which Lozano found Pineda, the resulting shot was deflected wide by a Honduras defender. Honduras subbed out Brayan Acosta and Angel Tejeda for Edwin Rodriguez and Eddie Hernandez. Mexico had another chance when Lozano got off a shot that Lopez made a great save on. Later Funes Mori got a shot from outside the area but it went wide. Honduras then subbed out Carlos Pineda for Andy Najar. Then after a good run by Mexico, Jesus Gallardo found Edson Alvarez, who got a right footed shot that hit the post and the ball fell to Rogelio Funes Mori, who got a right footed shot past Lopez for the 2-0 lead. Immediately after the goal, Mexico subbed out Edson Alvarez for Luis Romo. Honduras then had a shot when Elis got off a shot that bounced off the leg of Romo. Mexico look to have a good chance when Lozano combined with Funes Mori, but he did a terrible job of lowering the ball and it was ruled to be a handball. Then after that, a great combination play between Orbelin Pineda and Hirving Lozano was finished with a great shot by Lozano that went past Lopez for the 3-0 lead for Mexico. Mexico continued to have chances as Honduras looked done. Mexico would sub out Hirving Lozano so he could get the applause of the whole stadium. Uriel Antuna came in for him. There would be no more chances as Mexico took a 3-0 win where they completely dominated and should have even scored more goals.
Mexico needed this type of win after their match against Canada on Thursday. Not only did Mexico only get a tie at home, but they were outplayed at times and looked ill prepared for it as opposed to Canada. It was a totally different case this time, as Mexico dominated from the opening whistle and should have done better against Honduras. The poor finishing made a game that should have been over a long time before rather close. Mexico also tried to play their flowing offensive style, but had players failing to combine and not being crisp in their passing and especially in receiving those passes. Yet the win, combined with Panama’s victory over the United States, means that Mexico sits solely in first place again in CONCACAF qualifying with 11 points. They will now have another tough test with the away match in El Salvador, the first in four games. Mexico will be facing the most hostile crowd in Central America, but El Salvador isn’t as strong as side as Mexico on paper. But they will get a boost from facing Mexico and the United States just showed how tough away matches in Central America are (they also only tied 0-0 in their visit to El Salvador). Yet as the third match of the week, this could be the match where having a deeper bench pays off for Mexico, because although both teams have gone out with very similar starting lineups for both games, they should be able to have the stronger lineup if they make changes to it.