Rostov -On-Don: Mexico laid one foot in the World Cup’s last 16 and left South Korea on the brink of elimination after goals from Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela clinched a 2-1 victory here, Saturday.
Hernandez became the first Mexican player to score 50 goals for his country, after 104 appearances, with Vela earlier opening the scoring through yet another penalty kick.
Son Heung-min’s stunning long-range effort in added time gave South Korea a glimmer of hope but it was too little too late.
Mexico lead Group F on six points after two games, having backed up their shock victory against Germany with another display to suggest they can go deep in this tournament.
After 28 games at the World Cup, there have now been 14 spot-kicks, 11 of them converted, and there could be little complaint about this one, coming after a blatant handball by Jang Hyun-soo, Vela stepping up to convert.
In temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius, Mexico were rewarded for another controlled performance that combined possession in midfield with pace and penetration in attack.
Before their opening goal, however, it was South Korea that created the better chances. Only a brilliant tackle from Hirving Lozano denied Lee Yong from tapping in at the back post before Son saw three quickfire shots come to nothing, the first two blocked, the last skewed wide.
The game became more open in the second half as South Korea perhaps pushed too hard too soon, and it was little surprise when Mexico doubled their lead through Hernandez.
Son should have capitalised on a Rafael Marquez mistake late on but made amends in the 93rd minute with a fabulous effort that soared into the corner of the net.