Pardo Double Sparks Mexico Comeback In Sven’s First Match

Mexico saved it until late, mounting a furious second-half comeback led by Pavel Pardo to beat Honduras.

Mexico 2 - 1 Honduras

Fans who made it to the Estadio Azteca were treated to a heart-pounding 90 minutes that saw a beautiful free kick goal from the visitors followed by a great comeback by the home side to start Sven-Goran Eriksson’s tenure in charge of El Tri off on the right note.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime after an incredible free kick goal by Honduran sensation Julio Cesar de Leon, the Mexicans kept the pressure high through the second half and after Pavel Pardo scored twice, they maintained their sparkling record at Azteca. They are now in first place in Group B.

First Half
As play began, the Mexican side looked quite comfortable behind the ball, controlling most of the possession in the early going. Though creating few chances, they kept the Honduran side at bay by playing an efficient game of keepaway for the first third of the game.

Opportunities came in the form of Tottenham Hotspur’s wunderkind Giovanni Dos Santos, who was easily the best player on the pitch for most of the game. His smart passes and impeccable vision created quite a few chances for Eriksson’s side, the most pressing coming at the 24th minute.

Quick and determined passing that often eluded Eriksson’s players as England manager helped set up Dos Santos inside the box. He slotted a low ball into the middle where it easily beat Honduran keeper Noel Valladares but struck off the post.

Dos Santos continued his fine play four minutes later when he spotted Andres Guardado at the far post. Dos Santos’s cross came down nicely for Guardado who took it smoothly off the volley and was unlucky not to beat Valladares.

The game continued in Mexico’s favor for much of the first half until the 35th minute when a soft foul 25-yards outside the box gave Honduras a chance for a go at goal. Struck immaculately by Julio Cesar de Leon, who plays his club football for Parma, the right-footed shot maneuvered around the wall and barely ducked under the crossbar, thoroughly beating Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez for a stunning opener.

It was the first sniff at goal Honduras had managed the entire first half and Leon made it count. Suddenly behind, the Mexican fans were shocked into silence.

Mexico’s best chance of the first half came off of a flighted corner that found captain and Barcelona center back Rafa Marquez. His beautiful timed header seemed destined for the far corner of the net until it slammed against the post and back out.

Second Half
Mexico poured on the pressure from the opening kick, refusing to let their impressive record at the Azteca -- only ever one loss in a meaningful game -- go to waste. Marquez and the rest of the Mexican back four began to push further up the field expanding the passing options for the midfield.

Dos Santos continued his inspired play and was delivering the ball all over the pitch to his Mexican teammates. Another opportunity came for Guardado in the 55th minute as a lovely cross came his way and a well-timed diving header flew just wide of the far post.

Goalkeeper Sanchez did his part to keep Mexico in the game as well, stopping whatever Honduras threw at him in the second half, which for the most part were half-chances on the counter attack.

Controversy entered the fray in the 65th minute as a very questionable non-call on a handball inside the box denied the Mexican side a spot kick. A driven cross through the box clipped the hand of a Honduran defender, which could have been about the most blatant handball in the Azteca’s history, yet no call was made and play continued.

Eriksson took off his young guns Dos Santos and Arsenal’s Carlos Vela early in the second half in favor of two more experienced players, Guillermo Franco and Omar Bravo. Soon after, in the 70th minute, Mexican hero Cuauhtemoc Blanco was brought on to rousing applause, and the boisterous Chicago Fire striker did not disappoint his fans.

The breakthrough finally came in the 73rd minute as the ball was played into the middle of the area but headed out cleanly by the Honduran defender. Unfortunately for the Catrachos, it fell to the powerful foot of Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo who smashed the ball from 25-yards into the top corner passed Valladares.

Mexico was now level and hungry to take the lead from the spunky Honduras side that really never created a whole lot on the offensive side of things, despite Inter Milan striker and lone front man on the night, David Suazo’s best efforts.

To the delight of new manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and the more than 100,000 fans in attendance, El Tri nabbed the lead just two minutes after tying the game. The goal came again from Pardo, whose free kick slid past everyone in the box, Hondurans and Mexicans alike, and dropped quietly into the bottom of the net, leaving Valladares frozen by its movement.

Complaints of offside were brought to referee Joel Aguilar’s attention, and were so intense that Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa was shown his second yellow.

The action continued at a vigorous pace for the remaining 15 minutes with both teams getting chances to score but to no avail. Suazo played spirited football up top, running hard at the Mexican back line with the ball, but with little help from his supporting cast the Inter striker was unable to put Honduras back level before the final whistle.

A good start for Eriksson and his side sees them top of the group after one game. If they continue with the form they displayed in Mexico City, odds are they won’t look back.

Pardo Double Sparks Mexico Comeback In Sven’s First Match Reviewed by admin Ucop on 4:32 AM Rating: 5

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