Mexico saved their best effort for last on Thursday, using goals from Carlos Vela and Alberto Medina to top Italy 2-1 in Brussels in El Tri's final World Cup tune-up before heading to South Africa.
The win is easily the most impressive yet for a Mexico team that convened in early April and has reeled off eight friendly matches since May 7 in a frantic effort to prepare for the World Cup.
Mexico open the World Cup against host nation South Africa in Group A on June 11.
Vela put Mexico on the board in the 17th minute, taking a through pass from Giovani dos Santos and slotting a right-footed shot past Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The goal was the second in the last six matches with El Tri for the Arsenal forward, who was the top scorer at the Under-17 World Cup in 2005 before making his first team debut in 2007.
Medina then padded the lead in the 84th minute, finishing off a chip pass from former Chicago Fire star Cuauhtémoc Blanco. The 37-year-old Blanco came on for Javier “Chicharito” Hernández in the 71st minute and almost immediately paid dividends, lofting a pass to a streaking Medina before the new Manchester United recruit buried a right-footed blast for his first with the national team.
Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci cut the lead to 2-1 with a goal in the 89th minute, but the Italians came away empty handed in their penultimate tune-up match. They have one friendly remaining against Switzerland on June 5, before they begin the defense of their 2006 World Cup in earnest against Paraguay on June 14.
Spain top South Korea
Jesús Navas scored in the 86th minute as Spain topped fellow World Cup qualifier South Korea 1-0 on Thursday in Innsbruck, Austria.
The goal was Navas' first for his country and provided a welcome late result for Spain, who won their 11th straight match with one more tune up match remaining before South Africa. The 2008 Euro Cup champs and Group H favorites will face Poland next Tuesday in Murcia, Spain before opening World Cup play against Switzerland on June 16.
South Korea head into the World Cup on a two-game losing streak, after coming up short against the Spaniards and in a friendly match against Belarus on May 30. They open play in Group B against Greece on June 12.
Germans rally past Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bastian Schweinsteiger convereted two penalty shots five minutes apart in the second half as Germany rallied past Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 on Thursday in Frankfurt.
The Bayern Munich midfielder's penalty strikes in the 73rd and 77th minute were enough to erase a first half goal from VfL Wolfsburg midfielder Edin Dzeko, which put Bosnia-Herzegovina up at the break. Philipp Lahm also scored in the 50th minute for the Germans, who open Group D play against Australia on June 13 in South Africa.