Peralta hat-trick takes Mexico to World Cup
20 November 2013, 19:08
Wellington - An Oribe Peralta hat-trick fired Mexico into their sixth successive World Cup on Wednesday, as El Tri downed New Zealand 4-2 to end a roller-coaster qualification campaign on a high.
Peralta, who also scored two when Mexico trounced the All Whites 5-1 at home in last week's first leg, effectively killed off the return leg before the break, with Carlos Pena making the aggregate score 9-3 at the death.
Victory in the intercontinental play-off means Mexico have now reached 15 of the last 20 World Cups, making them one of the most consistent teams in international football.
But the 24th-ranked team have endured a rocky qualification road to Brazil, scraping to an embarrassing fourth place in the North and Central America and the Caribbean confederation (CONCACAF),
They also allowed the unfancied All Whites to claw back two late goals in Wellington, prompting coach Miguel Herrera to say they were not yet the finished article.
Herrera, who took over last month and revamped the team with domestic players, said they must improve in order to make a mark in Brazil.
"It was very tough for us to make it," he said. "Obviously we have to do a lot of work off the field and also on the field.
"If we mix both together, I think that Mexico can do well in the World Cup... going to the World Cup is totally different than just playing a single game."
Even so, the fact that Mexico are through will restore some pride to the regional footballing powerhouse after they won only two of their 10 CONCACAF qualifiers, scoring a paltry seven goals and shedding three managers along the way.
It will also be a relief to team sponsors, with estimates that a failure to qualify would have cost up to $600 million.
New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert, who confirmed after the match that he will stand down after eight years in charge, said he was proud of his 79th-ranked team but they had simply encountered a better side.
"You've deserved it, you've been the better team across both ties and we look forward to watching the team with interest," he told the Mexican media.
Herbert said New Zealand should consider switching from the notoriously weak Oceania confederation into Asia so they faced quality opposition more regularly, boosting their chances of making the World Cup.
"New Zealand needs these challenges, these players need challenges," he said.
Herbert's team started brightly in front of a sellout 35,000 crowd at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.
But their attacking forays left wide gaps in the defence, which Mexico exploited in the 13th minute when Carlos Pena slipped a ball through for Peralta to calmly chip goalkeeper Glen Moss for his opener.
The Santos forward's second came when he latched onto a Miguel Layun cross on 29 minutes, leaving Moss stranded, following up with a carbon copy effort four minutes later for his first international hat-trick.
New Zealand's woes intensified when striker Jeremy Brockie was awarded a penalty after being brought down by Moises Munoz just before half-time, only for the Mexican keeper to stop his tame spot kick.
New Zealand finally put themselves on the board with a Chris James penalty in the 80th minute after Mexico captain Rafael Marquez was penalised for handball.
Rory Fallon added another two minutes later with a neatly taken side-foot volley that brought the home fans to life before Pena restored Mexico's two-goal buffer three minutes from time.