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Mexico edge tenacious All Whites

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/10/2016

Mexico have shaken off a tenacious All Whites effort to beat the New Zealanders 2-1 in a football international in Nashville, Tennessee, on Sunday.

Ranked 88th in the world, the All Whites had a point to prove against No.15 Mexico, who denied them a place at the 2014 World Cup by winning their intercontinental play-off 9-3 on aggregate in November 2013.

Trailing 1-0 at the break to a first-half penalty, the Kiwis levelled through Marco Rojas barely a minute into the second spell.

Mexico responded 10 minutes later through Marco Fabian, but couldn't extend their lead as the tiring Kiwis ran themselves into the ground for the last half-hour.

Coach Anthony Hudson was delighted with his side's performance.

"I was proud after the first half - other than the penalty, I don't think they caused us too many problems," he said.

"In the second half, I think we spent most of the time in their half. We had players on the pitch who have not played with us for about a year and we also had a debutant.

"We should have been beaten comfortably, given the rankings. From our point of view, this was a massive performance."

The All Whites made good on Hudson's pre-match promise to push high, pressuring Mexico as they dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes.

"I thought we did really well at pressing them and winning the ball high up the pitch. We didn't come here and sit back and defend - we were positive tonight and that's what I'm pleased about."

Mexico took the lead in the 27th minute, skipper Giovani dos Santos clinical in converting from the spot after Hirving Lozano went down under Deklan Wynne's challenge deep in the box.

Kosta Barbarouses had the ball in the net three minutes later, but fractionally mistimed his run onto a sublime through-ball from skipper Chris Wood and was ruled offside.

Slick work on the counterattack right from the restart after the break caught Mexico napping at the back, Wood slipping a sweet pass through to Wynne, who looped in a beautiful cross for Rojas to stab home.

Mexico regained the lead 10 minutes later, Oribe Peralta orchestrating the pinpoint passing which carved open the New Zealand defence for Fabian to slot home.

The All Whites now travel to Washington DC where they will meet the 22nd-ranked United States on Wednesday afternoon (NZT)

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