Mexico Beat France 2-0 in World Cup Match

Polokwane (South Africa), June 18 (DPA) Mexico scored twice in the second half to knock off France 2-0 Thursday, putting the Mexicans in prime position to reach the knockout stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and bounce the French and hosts South Africa from the tournament.

Manchester United-bound striker Javier Hernandez opened the scoring in the 64th minute in winning Man of the Match honors. And veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco converted a penalty in the 79th minute to decide the game at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

The Mexicans moved even atop Group A with four points along with Uruguay while the 1998 champions and 2006 runners-up France remained on one point. Mexico and Uruguay would both advance to the Round of 16 with a draw in their final group match.

Following the 0-0 draw with Uruguay in their Group A opener, France coach Raymond Domenech brought in Florent Malouda in favour of Yoann Gourcoff with Franck Ribery moving into a central position behind the lone striker Nicolas Anelka. And defender William Gallas started despite a calf strain.

Mexico's only line-up change was Hector Moreno playing for Paul Aguilar in defence after the 1-1 draw with South Africa.

The 1998 champions and 2006 runners-up France came into the game with a 2-1-0 World Cup record against Mexico, winning 4-1 in 1930 and 3-2 in 1954 and drawing 1-1 in 1966.

Mexico's exciting forward Giovani Dos Santos made things interesting after just three minutes, hitting the right post though the 21-year-old Galatasaray talent was ruled offside.

Ribery's centrally taken shot three minutes later proved no problem for Mexico keeper Oscar Perez as France's first mini-chance.

Javier Aguirre's Mexican side was dangerous once again in the eighth minute with Carlos Vela getting behind the defence though his left foot attempt went well off target.

France's playmaking struggles continued while Mexico defender Carlos Salcido twice pushed forward for goal chances - hitting wide right in the 18th minute and shooting right at French keeper Hugo Lloris nine minutes later.

Mexico's Arsenal striker Vela was forced out of the game in the 31st minute with a right leg issue as Pablo Barrera came on.

Les Bleus rarely were dangerous though Anelko had a shot just before the break - albeit not really challenging for Perez.

The Mexican keeper was more tested in the 54th minute, deflecting over his crossbar Malouda's blast.

The Mexicans beat a French offside trap to grab the lead in the 64th minute. Rafael Marquez played a long high ball over the French backline to Hernandez, who circled Lloris and then slotted in the empty goal, sending the Sombrero-clad Mexican fans into celebrations.

The 22-year-old Hernandez will be leaving Mexican side Chivas for Manchester United this season.

Mexico supporters were in heaven in the 79th minute as Blanco doubled the lead on a penalty. Barrera was taken down in the area by Eric Abidal with the referee responding by pointing to the spot.

The 37-year-old striker Blanco stepped up and hammered his blast into the lower left corner just past Lloris to become the first Mexican to score at three World Cups.

The French were clearly deflated and never mounted another dangerous attack the rest of the way. "It is a real shame to lose in this way," said a disappointed Malouda afterwards.

Mexico captain Marquez said: "The game went according to our plan and we are delighted, now we just have to finish the job in the last game."



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