Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Hernandez brace hands Mexico victory over Japan

AFP, BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil

Mexico’s Javier Hernandez, left, scores past Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima in their FIFA Confederations Cup Group A match in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Manchester United star Javier Hernandez scored twice, but missed a last-minute penalty as Mexico defeated Japan 2-1 on Saturday to leave the Asian side winless at the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Hernandez took his tally for the tournament to three as Mexico registered their first victory.

However, the win came in a “dead” game after Brazil and Italy had already made sure of their places in the semi-finals as Group A qualifiers.

Hernandez, who had scored his team’s only goal of the competition in the 2-1 loss to Italy, opened the scoring in the 54th minute.

He timed a run perfectly to meet a cross from Andres Guardado, before heading the ball past Eiji Kawashima in the Japan goal.

Twelve minutes later, Hernandez made it 2-0.

Giovani dos Santos sent over a corner which was flicked on at the near post by Hiram Mier for the Manchester United man to head home from close range.

Japan refused to give up, with Yasuyuki Konno seeing a goal-bound effort cleared away by the feet of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

The World Cup qualifiers pulled one back four minutes from time when VfB Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki tapped in a simple chance.

Hernandez had a chance to make it 3-1 in stoppage-time when he was brought down in the area, but Kawashima pulled off a fine save from the resulting penalty, with the striker then smashing the rebound off the crossbar.

The result allowed Mexico, who had also lost 2-0 to Brazil, to finish third in Group A.

Japan ended the tournament with three defeats, having already been beaten 3-0 by Brazil and 4-3 by Italy.

There were few chances in the first half at Belo Horizonte, with Mexico enjoying more of the ball.

They were unlucky not to have taken the lead in the 40th minute when Valencia midfielder Guardado sent a flying header off the post.

Japan thought they had gone ahead on nine minutes when Okazaki deflected a cross from captain Yasuhito Endo into the net, but German referee Felix Brych ruled it out for offside.

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