On May 5, 1862, Mexico’s ragtag army scored the most improbable of battlefield victories against Napolean III’s powerful French force. The day of the Mexican victory is celebrated today as Cinco de Mayo.
On June 17, 2010, Mexico’s soccer warriors, also underdogs, got the best of France yet again. This time on the pitch in South Africa before a partisan crowd. And it will be another day the Mexicans and their fans will long remember.
In as close to a must-win situation as possible without being one, Mexico came through with 2-0 World Cup win over France. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, in only his 14th international appearance, scored his eight international goal and first in his first World Cup, in the 64th minute.
Even Hernandez seemed surprised as he gathered in a pass from Rafael Marquez, barely avoiding an offside call, and put away a one-on-one chance after drawing the goalkeeper out.
Mexico moved closer to advancing out of the group stage, as veteran Cuahtemoc Blanco came off the bench and fired home a penalty kick in the 79th minute for the final score.
France was lucky to be in Africa in the first place after a handball in qualifying that wasn't called against poor Ireland, which deserved better. And the French have shown they don't belong, as their World Cup is almost certainly over after their last group game on Tuesday.
So many stars and talent, yet a listless performance in two games. And this team was in the World Cup final only four years ago!
Para los mexicanos y chicanos que les gustan al Tri, una gran celebracion por todas partes de nuestro mundo. En mi opinion humilde, eso fue uno de los mejores juegos para Mexico en la historia de la seleccion.
Translation: For Mexicans and Chicanos (like me) who like El Tri, a huge celebration throughout our world. In my humble opinion, this was one of the best games for Mexico in the history of the national team.
Mexico, winless against France in six previous meetings including a draw, finally broke through on the biggest stage. It got goals from two subs, further making coach Javier Aguirre look good for his decision-making. The Mexican side had the better scoring chances in the first half, with the best of the four notable ones a shot from Carlos Salcido blocked by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 27th minute.
The French began to pick things up early in the second half but were deflated by Hernandez’s goal. And now, Mexico , with four points in Group A, is tied with Uruguay for the lead in the group with one game left for each of the four teams.
France and South Africa have one point each, and one team needs to win big over the other next week in order to have a chance to advance. Mexico and Uruguay play each other in their group finales on June 22, and if it is a draw or one-goal win for either team, both advance to the knockout stage.
Mexico typically makes it to the knockout stage in World Cup play, but this time around, they are making it happen with a younger, faster team that has a bright future and present. Aguirre is making all the right moves, Marquez is finally playing well when it matters, Conejo Perez is solid in goal, and Mexico won this match without one of its best strikers, Carlos Vela, for 69 minutes. He left the game with an injury, and his replacement, Pablo Barrera, drew the foul in the box that got Mexico its PK goal.
Certainly a memorable performance for Mexico, except Efrain Juarez got a silly yellow card for shoving France’s Florent Malouda in the back and will miss the next match. With the way the Mexican bench is playing, he may not be missed at all.
Here's hoping all Mexico fans in Arizona enjoyed this one as much as I did!