Mexico boosts confidence with win over Ivory Coast
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For one night at least, thousands of Mexico supporters walked out of a stadium with big smiles.
The El Tri fans did Wednesday night after Mexico registered a 4-1 victory over the Ivory Coast in an international friendly at MetLife Stadium.
Whether Mexico can translate into winning where it truly counts -- during a pair of vital World Cup qualifying matches next month -- remains to be seen.
Striker Oribe Peralta, the goal-scoring hero of Mexico's gold-medal Olympic team, scored twice and Angel Reyna added another. The Mexicans also received a gift via an own goal by defender Arthur Boka in the 10th minute.
"Of course, this was a great game and where there's a positive result, it helps,'' said Mexican coach Jose Manuel de la Torre, who has been under fire for his team's underachieving results. "It helps with the confidence. It was a result of the teamwork that we saw in the past few days. They did well.
"It helps us as we prepare for the next few games, especially in the World Cup qualifiers, which is our goal. It is all about focusing on the next game.''
That will be against Honduras at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City Sept. 6. Four days later, the Mexicans visit the United States in Columbus, Ohio. Mexico, in third place in the CONCACAF hexagonal (the top three teams automatically qualify for Brazil), probably needs at least four points -- a win and a draw -- to keep its hopes of qualifying viable.
Mexican fans have been extremely critical of de la Torre, and for good reason. Considered one of the favorites to book a spot for Brazil 2014, El Tri has struggled mightily. Mexico endured a poor and utterly forgettable display at the FIFA Confederations Cup and a disappointing semifinal finish at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
So, what de la Torre witnessed had to be encouraging.
After the own goal, Peralta took advantage of a poor back pass by midfielder Jean-Jacques Gosso and turned that into a goal in the 27th minute. He added a header off a Giovani dos Santos cross in the 45th minute. Didier Drogba closed the gap to 3-1 with a 62nd-minute penalty kick before Angel Reyna closed out the scoring in the 90th minute.
"We had a good game and a good result,'' de la Torre said. "They all contributed to their overall performance. The result is a combination of everybody coming together.''