World Cup: Oribe Peralta's strike earns Mexico opening 1-0 win over Cameroon
Last Updated: 20/06/14 1:42pm
Oribe Peralta: Celebrates his goal for Mexico
Oribe Peralta struck in the second half as Mexico got their World Cup campaign under way with a 1-0 victory over lacklustre Cameroon in rain-lashed Natal.
It was no more than the Mexicans deserved after playing the more enterprising football and having two Giovani dos Santos goals controversially disallowed for offside in the first half.
Cameroon almost snatched a last-gasp equaliser but Guillermo Ochoa saved well from a firm Benjamin Moukandjo header.
With Brazil and Croatia their other opponents in Group A, Mexico will be relieved to have claimed the three-points from a full-blooded encounter played in heavy rain at the Arena das Dunas.
A number of hefty challenges went unpunished throughout the game by Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan but Mexico always looked the stronger side.
Peralta netted after 61 minutes and with Dos Santos also shining, the strike pair justified their selection ahead of Manchester United's Javier Hernandez.
Giovani dos Santos: Had two goals disallowed
Both sides had entered the competition with question marks over their readiness.
Mexico - having had four coaches in the past year and only qualifying via a play-off against New Zealand - boasted little form having lost recent friendlies to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Portugal.
Cameroon's preparations had been chaotic with the squad arriving in Brazil a day later than planned after a row over bonuses with their national federation.
The African players had also been under fire from their fans and media after failing to accept a symbolic flag from their prime minister.
Those issues seemed to be hampering Cameroon as they started poorly and rarely threatened to improve upon a record that has seen them win just once at a World Cup finals since 1990.
Mexico quickly made an impression with Miguel Layun firing over and Hector Herrera shooting at former Liverpool goalkeeper Charles Itandje from distance.
Oribe Peralta: Slid home the only goal
The first moment of controversy came when Dos Santos brilliantly turned in a cross from Herrera on the volley only to see a flag raised. Replays suggested the striker had been unlucky, although it was a marginal call.
Eric Choupo-Moting put the ball in the net as Cameroon finally started to show some life, but there was little doubt about the offside decision that denied him.
In a good spell for Cameroon, Tottenham's Benoit Assou-Ekotto charged down the left to tee up Samuel Eto'o but the former Chelsea forward's shot grazed the post.
Choupo-Moting was unlucky again when he headed straight at Ochoa and Mexico eventually scrambled clear.
Cameroon's purple patch proved brief and Mexico were denied by a flag again when Dos Santos stooped to head in from a Layun corner.
Dos Santos was in an offside position as the ball was swung in but the ball was diverted into his path by Choupo-Moting and not flicked on by a Mexico team-mate.
The first half ended with Stephane Mbia escaping a booking for connecting with a forearm to the head of Alex Song. It was one of a number of robust challenges which Roldan dealt with leniently.
Samuel Eto'o: No way through for Cameroon
Mexico maintained their tempo after the break and Peralta was denied by a good Itanjde block.
Cameroon's next chance came from a set-piece as Assou-Ekotto had a free-kick deflected narrowly wide.
Mexico deservedly made their breakthrough just after the hour.
Dos Santos raced through but was denied again, this time by Itanjde, but Peralta seized on the rebound to stroke the ball home.
Peralta made way for Hernandez soon after as Mexico looked to his fresh legs to make the win secure.
Cameroon also made a forward change as they searched for an equaliser, sending on striker Pierre Webo for former Arsenal midfielder Song.
Rafael Marquez blocked a shot from Choupo-Moting and Francisco Rodriquez needed to stretch to intercept as Eto'o threatened.
Ochoa then did well to keep out Moukandjo's header but Hernandez should have made it 2-0 when he missed the target in injury time.
FIFA World Cup Group A
FIFA World Cup Group B
FIFA World Cup Group C
FIFA World Cup Group D
FIFA World Cup Group E
FIFA World Cup Group F
|3||Bosnia and Herzegovina||3||3|
FIFA World Cup Group G
|2||United States of America||3||4|
FIFA World Cup Group H
World Cup Group A
Niko Kovac admitted that Mexico deserved to progress at the World Cup after Croatia lost 3-1 to the North Americans.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera could not hide his joy after his side booked their place in the last 16.
Volker Finke says his Cameroon side are "suffering" after their woeful World Cup campaign ended in a 4-1 loss to Brazil.
- Neymar: The best so far
- Brazil set up Chile clash
- Mexico book place in last 16
- Three-match ban for Song
- BAE explains 'headbutt'
- Croatia dump out Cameroon
- Mandzukic boost for Croatia
- What’s wrong with Brazil?
- Herrera heaps praise on Ochoa
- Scolari: Draw a fair result
- Brazil frustrated by Mexico
- Cameroon suffer Eto'o blow
- Scolari wary of Mexico threat
- Hulk hoping to face Mexico
- Croatia expect Modric to play
- Mexico keeper: Bring on Brazil
- Penalty was right, said Fred
- Croatia duo blast referee
- Finke offers no excuses
- Modric concern for Croatia
- Mexico players impress in win
- Kovac: Ridiculous decision
- Scolari: It was a penalty
- Rate the players
- Neymar leads Brazil to victory
- Finke shrugs off Cameroon row