Mexico soon settled into their passing rhythm; within 10 minutes they had racked up 55 passes, with particular joy down the wings. It was no surprise when they found the back of the net through Giovani Dos Santos, but the officials ruled it out for offside.
Just before the half-hour mark, Dos Santos rippled the net again, this time with a header from a corner - but the linesman again ruled it out, again incorrectly: the ball had flicked off a defender, not a striker. That meant that Mexico still officially only had one effort on target, with Cameroon still to bother the Mexico goal.
By half-time Mexico had enjoyed 69.2% possession, totting up 229 passes from 260 attempts (88%) compared to Cameroon's mere 89 from 116 (77%).
Mexico took the lead on the hour, Oribe Peralta finishing off a flowing team move: Hector Herrera fed Dos Santos, whose shot was merely parried to Peraltsa for his ninth goal in seven games.
Cameroon, who had often been playing effectively a back six as their wide midfielders tracked back Layun and Aguilar, naturally threw more men forward after going behind, but couldn't threaten goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Indeed, although the Africans had more shots than the Central Americans, Ochoa didn't have a save to make until injury-time.
Francisco Javier Rodriguez exemplified why Mexico won. Playing on the right of their three-centre-back system, Rodriguez was the game's top passer (62 out of 74), notably splitting wide when Mexico had possession - note how many of his passes actually come inside from the flank. Even so, he was positionally diligent enough without the ball to also win more aerial duels (3 out of 5, green chevrons) and make more clearances (9, green circles) than anyone else on the pitch.
Facts and figures
- Mexico’s 1-0 win over Cameroon was their first victory against an African team at a World Cup finals tournament.
- Cameroon have only won 1 of their last 14 World Cup games (1-0 v Saudi Arabia in 2002), drawing 4 and losing 9.
- Cameroon have lost their last 5 World Cup matches; the longest losing streak of any African nation at the tournament.
- Oribe Peralta has scored 9 goals in his last 7 competitive appearances for Mexico.
- Cameroon have conceded in 16 of their last 17 matches at the World Cup.
- Each of Mexico’s last 5 goals at the World Cup have arrived after the hour mark.
- Despite firing in 4 more shots than opponents Mexico (9), Cameroon failed to manage a shot on target until the 90th minute.
- Francisco Javier Rodríguez attempted 74 passes for Mexico, 38 more than any Cameroon player.