Carlos Vela PK celebration vs. South Korea-6.23.18
REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

Carlos Vela's penalty kick helps lead Mexico over South Korea

Carlos Vela again played a pivotal role in Mexican World Cup success, scoring a first-half penalty to help lift El Tri to. 2-1 win over South Korea at Rostov Arena Saturday.

In doing so, the LAFC forward made some MLS history. 

Vela was again in Juan Carlos Osorio’s starting XI, as an attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation. And while he was instrumental in his work against the ball and sparking key counterattacks in a stunning 1-0 upset over Germany to open Group F on Sunday in Moscow, Vela’s influence Saturday was felt in the 26th minute.

He stepped to the penalty spot after a sliding Seon-min Moon handled a Andres Guardado cross in the box. After a short run up, Vela hammered his penalty past South Korean goalkeeper Hyeon-woo Jo, who wrongly dived to his right, to put Mexico in front.

Vela narrowly missed a second goal in the 62nd minute when he received a short pass from Miguel Layun and cut the ball back inside, but his curling attempt from just outside the box sailed over the crossbar.

Four minutes later, Chicharito doubled Mexico’s lead on a clinical counter.

In the 77th minute, Vela made way for Giovani dos Santos, with the LA Galaxy attacking midfielder embracing his LAFC counterpart before making his 2018 World Cup debut.

South Korea pulled a goal back in the third minute of second-half stoppage time on a goal by Heungmin Son, but it proved to be cosmetic as moments later Mexico celebrated victory again and inched closer to securing passage into the knockout round as group winners.

Mexico close out the group stage Wednesday against Sweden from Central Stadium in Ekaterinburg.