Mexico coach Miguel Herrera during the World Cup game against Cameroon
USA Today Sports

World Cup: Mexico's Miguel Herrera praises performance, says team "never gave a thought" to ref

With the key role goal differential can play in getting out of World Cup group play, plus-3 would have looked a lot better to Mexico than plus-1.

But the main thing, El Tri manager Miguel Herrera said, is that his side picked up a full three points from Friday's 1-0 victory over Cameroon in their Group A opener.

“The guys fought for that win," Herrera wrote on Twitter after the match, which saw two apparent first-half goals by Giovani dos Santos nullified by controversial offside calls. "They left everything on the field. Now we look ahead to the next game."

Dos Santos – who appeared clearly onside on both goals – didn't give up despite the calls against him, and his 61st-minute shot forced the save that led to Oribe Peralta's putback for the match-winner.

"We never gave a thought to the referee at halftime," Herrera said in his postgame press conference. "What we said to the boys is that we had to be concentrated at all times. They never lost the attitude and we always had the result in our mind."

When Peralta delivered it though, Herrera did a quick visual before letting himself enjoy it.

"Obviously I celebrated the two goals because they were really good quality by Giovani," Herrera said. "When Oribe scored, the first thing I did is to look at the flag and when the referee ran toward the middle of the field, I celebrated."

And despite playing down any possible long-term effect from the offside calls, Herrera made it clear that he considered his side the far better one on the day. While El Tri struggled at times to defend those set pieces – and might have gotten away with committing a penalty foul in the first half, when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting appeared to be pulled down in the box on a corner kick – Herrera preferred to concentrate on the positives.

"The boys surpassed the expectations I had of them,” he said. “We had many opportunities to score and we worked really well with a lot of desire."

With group favorites Brazil up next, Mexico can't afford to ease off after Friday's hard-fought win – and they won't play to split the points, their manager said.

"The game against Brazil will be very different from the one against Cameroon," Herrera said. "We're playing against the favorites. We'll try to keep the control of the ball and we will not come out for the draw. We'll be looking for the win."

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