Mexico crushed Cuba 6-0 to end their seven-match winless run and storm to the top of Group C at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Miguel Herrera’s side had not won since May but Oribe Peralta struck a hat-trick as they destroyed an undermanned Cuba in their tournament opener in Chicago on Thursday.
It was just Mexico’s fourth win from 12 matches in 2015.
After Herrera took a completely different squad to last month’s Copa America and saw them eliminated at the group stage, Mexico drew with Costa Rica and Honduras in Gold Cup warm-up friendlies.
Cuba were without seven players and coach Raul Gonzalez at Soldier Field, with one of those players – Keiler Garcia – reportedly having defected.
Gonzalez and the other six players have failed to arrive in the United States due to visa issues, meaning assistant coach Walter Benitez was left in charge of just 16 men on Thursday.
Mexico dominated from the outset but had to wait until the 17th minute for Peralta to open the scoring from a goal-mouth scramble, although the America striker completed his brace before half-time as Herrera’s men led 4-0 at the break.
Peralta’s third goal came in the 62nd minute, while Giovani dos Santos completed the victory with 15 minutes remaining, sending Mexico ahead of Trinidad and Tobago on goal difference in Group C.
With 84 spots between the two teams on the FIFA rankings, it was unsurprising that 23rd-ranked Mexico were quickly on the front foot in Chicago.
Full-back Miguel Layun, who would find space time and again down the left, shot straight at goalkeeper Diosvelis Guerra in just the second minute.
Captain Andres Guardado almost willed the ball into Guerra’s net just past the quarter-hour mark, as Mexico hit the front through Peralta.
Guardado first released Carlos Vela but the Real Sociedad man was denied by Guerra.
The rebound fell to Guardado, whose shot was cleared off the line, and then Mexico’s skipper nodded another ricochet towards Peralta for the goal.
It was 2-0 five minutes later when Vela converted a loose ball, while Peralta added his second goal in the 38th minute after a pass deflected to him at the top of the box.
Peralta failed to convert a one-on-one opportunity soon after – one of numerous chances spurned by Mexico throughout the match – but Guardado ensured it was 4-0 at half-time with a header.
After a slightly subdued start to the second period, Peralta completed his treble just after the hour mark, thumping the ball over the line after beating both Guerra and defender Yasmany Lopez in an aerial challenge.
Giovani dos Santos came on in the 57th minute, replacing his brother Jonathan, and scored Mexico’s sixth in a classic case of third time lucky.
The Villarreal forward’s first effort on goal was smothered by Guerra, while he put the ball in the net a few minutes later only to be denied by the offside flag.
But Dos Santos got on the scoresheet in the 75th minute, bursting onto a long pass to slot the ball home.
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