The criticism of Mexico’s national team heading into the World Cup was loud and scathing. The answer has been emphatic.
The Mexicans won their second straight match at the tournament, beating South Korea, 2-1, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia on Saturday to move ever closer to a spot in the round of 16.
“We didn’t listen to the criticism,” said Javier Hernandez, one of the scorers against South Korea. “It was just noise.”
Mexico opened its World Cup by upsetting defending champion Germany, 1-0. A second victory on Saturday gives it six points and a chance to win Group F on Wednesday when the team faces Sweden.
“We want the Mexican people to enjoy this. We are going to enjoy it,” Hernandez said. “But as of tomorrow we will be working hard thinking about Sweden and regardless of the results of the matches against Germany and South Korea, we are going to go out there to get the three points.”
Hernandez and Carlos Vela scored a goal each at Rostov Arena. Vela converted from the penalty spot in the 26th minute after Jang Hyun-soo handled the ball while trying to stop a cross from Andres Guardado.
Hernandez added the second in the 66th, scoring his 50th goal for Mexico. He hit the ball low past goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo after collecting a pass from Hirving Lozano.
“We have beaten two brilliant and complicated teams, Germany and South Korea,” Hernandez said. “Our talent and hard work have paid off.”
Belgium 5, Tunisia 2: Belgium seems to be getting better and better — maybe even the best yet at the World Cup.
It’s still early, but a hugely talented Belgian squad made a big statement in its rout of Tunisia in Moscow. No team has scored more goals than Belgium’s eight, and only Cristiano Ronaldo can match Romelu Lukaku’s tally of four.
Belgium has yet to face South American or European opposition, however, and playing England on Thursday should decide who advances to the round of 16 as the winner of Group H.
“In the end, we need to play better teams and have better focus,” said Lukaku, who has scored two goals in each of Belgium’s two victories.
No player has had back-to-back World Cup games like that since Diego Maradona in 1986, though Argentina’s iconic captain did it in the quarterfinals and semifinals — against Belgium — before lifting the trophy.
Though Belgium is a long way from a first World Cup title, it is has looked like the most complete attacking force in Russia.
On Saturday, Eden Hazard also scored twice in the dominant display that produced the highest scoring game of tournament.