Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mexico 1 Iceland 0: Pulido scores in dominant win

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Feb 2017

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Mexico stepped up their preparations for World Cup qualifying with a comfortable 1-0 victory over a second-string Iceland side in Las Vegas.

Alan Pulido’s 21st-minute header settled the international friendly at Sam Boyd Stadium on Wednesday as Euro 2016 surprise packets Iceland struggled without a host of stars including Gylfi Sigurdsson, captain Aron Gunnarsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

Pulido took his tally to five goals in eight appearances for Mexico after turning in Giovani dos Santos’ free-kick in the first half.

The win extended Mexico’s unbeaten streak to seven games ahead of next month’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica (March 24) and Trinidad and Tobago (March 28) on the road to Russia 2018.

With the fixture falling outside of the official FIFA window, Mexico were without the likes of European stars Andres Guardado, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Hector Moreno, Hector Herrera and Co.

However, head coach Juan Carlos Osorio was still able to call upon Dos Santos and veteran defender Rafael Marquez.

Iceland, meanwhile, were a shadow of the team that reached the Euro 2016 quarter-finals after shocking England, with only one player boasting more than 10 caps in the squad.

And Iceland’s inexperience was telling as Mexico dominated from the outset.

A cross-cum-shot from Jesus Gallardo almost found the top corner of the net in the fourth minute, while Jesus Molina’s strike from outside the penalty area flashed just wide of the post seven minutes later.

Continuing to control proceedings, Mexico eventually broke the deadlock from a set-piece approaching the midway point of the half.

Dos Santos whipped in a free-kick, picking out Pulido at the top of the six-yard box and the Guadalajara striker glanced a header across Frederik Schram.

Nestor Araujo almost doubled the lead five minutes later but his shot was blocked as Iceland defended for their lives.

Unfortunate to only be 1-0 up at half-time, Mexico emerged from the break with the same tenacity and intensity after soft appeals for a penalty on Pulido were waved away by the referee.

Iceland rarely enjoyed time in attack as Mexico continued to dominate amid a flurry of substitutions, but the hosts were unable to add to the score, despite creating plenty of opportunities, including a gilt-edged chance for Hirving Lozano, who was unmarked in the six-yard box but headed over the crossbar.

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