A second-string Mexico team battled to a 1-0 win over Ghana in an international friendly in Houston.
With Mexico’s stars Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano, Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado away in Russia preparing for Thursday’s Confederations Cup semi-final against Germany, Wednesday’s fixture was a chance for the CONCACAF Gold Cup squad to impress.
And the Mexicans emerged triumphant thanks to Elias Hernandez’s 32nd-minute penalty at NRG Stadium in the United States.
Luis Pompilio Paez – Juan Carlos Osorio’s assistant – oversaw proceedings in Houston. The team – made up of players based in Mexico – only had six men with 10 caps or more as Hugo Ayala, Jesus Molina, Moises Munoz, Jesus Duenas and Hernandez were named in the starting XI.
Former Sunderland star Asamoah Gyan was named on the bench as Isaac Sackey made his debut in the absence of Andre and Jordan Ayew following Ghana’s 5-0 victory over Ethiopia in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying on June 11.
Ghana settled quickest of the two teams but Mexico soon found their rhythm as Rodolfo Pizarro wasted two good opportunities.
Pizarro received the ball outside of the penalty area, turned onto his right foot and flashed a shot just wide of the post in the fourth minute.
It should have been 1-0 six minutes later but Pizarro fluffed his lines after he was played in by Angel Sepulveda’s delightful backheel.
Ghana had chances of their own as Frank Acheampong cut his way past two opponents and shot wide of the post, while Moises was forced into a fine diving save by Majeed Waris.
Mexico’s attacking play did result in a goal just past the half-hour mark after Jesus Gallardo was taken down by John Boye in the penalty area and Hernandez made no mistake from the spot – his first international goal since scoring in a friendly against Colombia in September 2010.
It was not all smooth sailing for Mexico, who were forced into a substitution before half-time. After receiving treatment following a head collision, Munoz succumbed to injury, replaced by fellow veteran Jesus Corona, who was kept busy until the break.
The second half was not as free-flowing amid the raft of substitutions, but Ghana still had chances to level proceedings.
Ghana’s best opportunity fell to Acheampong with 12 minutes remaining but he was thwarted by the woodwork. The Anderlecht attacker had Corona beaten but his ferocious effort cannoned off the post.