Mexico brush aside New Zealand to march into World Cup finals
New Zealand 2 Mexico 4 (Agg: New Zealand 3 Mexico 9)
MEXICO breezed into the World Cup finals despite some brief resistance from New Zealand as they claimed a 4-2 win in the second-leg of their qualifying tie in Wellington.
The All Whites went into the match 5-1 down after a jarring evening at the Azteca last week, and despite a handful of late goals their leaky defence ensured they had no chance of boarding a flight to Brazil next summer.
Mexico eased to a 3-0 lead in 33 minutes with a first-half hat-trick from striker Oribe Peralta before New Zealand hit back with two goals in three minutes, firstly when Christian James scored from the penalty spot before Rory Fallon claimed their second.
However, any distant hopes of what was ultimately an unrealistic late comeback were dashed when Carlos Alberto Pena notched Mexico's fourth in the 87th minute.
New Zealand were the brightest in the opening exchanges but they quickly had the stuffing knocked out of them when Peralta dinked the ball over keeper Glen Moss in the 14th minute to give the visitors the lead.
Moss then denied Raul Jimenez and another Peralta chance but he could not stop the Mexico forward on the next attack, which culminated in him beating the keeper with ease after Andrew Durante was beaten for pace down the left wing, with the ball worked to Peralta who did not miss.
The Santos Laguna striker claimed his hat-trick in the 33rd minute with his easiest goal of the game, a simple tap-in after he was left unmarked in the box.
New Zealand won a penalty when Jeremy Brockie was brought down in the box, however Mexico stopper Moises Munoz made amends for the defensive lapse and saved the resulting spot-kick with his legs.
The All Whites' next chance again game from the penalty spot after a handball from Rafael Marquez in the 77th minute.
James stepped up for New Zealand and smashed the ball into the top corner to claim the slightest of footholds in the game.
Fallon then raised the home side's hopes, albeit briefly, when he scored their second of the night with a volley from the middle of the box, but any embers of a comeback were quickly extinguished thanks to Pena, who tapped in a ball which flew across the face of the goal.
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.