A double from Giovani dos Santos and another tally from Aldo de Nigris put the match in the pocket for Mexico, who beat New Zealand 3-0 on Wednesday at INVESCO Field at Mile High in Denver.
The Gold Cup warm-up was just a stroll in the park for El Tri, who played without veteran captain Rafa Márquez of the New York Red Bulls. Mexico were able to use their wings to perfection and put the match away in the first half against an All Whites side completely overmatched and devoid of any attacking impetus.
Giovani opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, when New Zealand ‘keeper Glen Moss spilled a cross from Mexico left back Carlos Salcido and right to the diminutive Mexican, who one timed it to the top of the net for the lead.
Dos Santos got his second goal of the night at the half-hour mark after some nice build-up play. Right winger Pablo Barrera, who ran rampant along the flank, laid the ball off to center mid Gerardo Torrado. The captain crossed into the box, where Giovani set himself up with a tap with the outside of his foot, avoided a sliding defender and danced around Moss to caress it home from two yards out.
Finally, de Nigris capped the scoring just before the halftime whistle. A wide open Andrés Guardado received a long ball out near the left slide line and dribbled into the box, where he sent in a low cross in front of the goal to de Nigris, who tapped it past Moss for Mexico’s third goal of the night.
New Zealand looked far from the team that went unbeaten in the group stage of last year’s World Cup, committing a number of mistakes in the back — including a back pass stolen by and nearly converted by de Nigris in the 20th minute — and failed to mount anything threatening in the short time on offense.
The All Whites' only shot of the first half came in the 35th minute, when forward Kosta Barbarouses unleashed a blast from long range that went well wide of goal.
With the match put away by halftime, Mexico head coach José Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre — who remains undefeated in his tenure as Tri manager thus far — opted to make four changes. New Zealand head coach Ricki Herbert, meanwhile, made three swaps.
The changes seemed to take away from El Tri’s offensive drive while allowing New Zealand to gain some footing on the pitch.
The All Whites finally got some numbers forward midway through the second period, resulting in their first shot on goal of the night. After a brief scramble around the Mexico box, Chivas USA midfielder Simon Elliott volleyed towards goal, but the shot was easily handled by Tri netminder Guillermo Ochoa.
Shortly after, in the 76th minute, New Zealand got their second shot on goal via an edge-of-the-box effort from second-half sub Chris Killen. Again, though, the chance was calmly stopped by Ochoa.
Still, Mexico cruised towards the finish — but not before Francisco Rodríguez rung the crossbar with a header in the final minute of play — in what is their final game before kicking off Gold Cup participation on Sunday against El Salvador in Arlington, Texas. New Zealand, meanwhile, will now head off to Australia to take on the Socceroos, also on Sunday.
MEX – Giovani, 23’
MEX - Giovani, 30’
MEX – De Nigris, 43’
Mexico — Guillermo Ochoa; Efraín Juárez, Francisco Javier Rodriguez, Héctor Moreno (Édgar Dueñas, 63’), Carlos Salcido; Pablo Barrera (Ángel Reyna, 46’), Gerardo Torrado, Israel Castro (Jesús Zavala, 46’), Andrés Guardado (Elías Hernández, 46’); Giovani dos Santos (Christián Bermúdez, 46’), Aldo de Nigris
New Zealand — Glen Moss; Michael Boxall (Dave Mulligan, 46’), Ivan Vicelich, Winston Reid, Michael Fitzgerald (Chris Killen, 46’); Simon Elliott (Aaron Clapham, 72’), Tim Brown, Andy Boyens (Ben Sigmund, 72’); Kosta Barbarouses, Shane Smeltz (Jeremy Brockie, 46’), Chris Wood (Michael McGlinchey, 66’)