Peralta hat-trick guides Mexico to World Cup
By Greg Stutchbury
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Oribe Peralta scored a first half hat-trick as Mexico beat New Zealand 4-2 in the second leg of their intercontinental playoff on Wednesday to earn a place at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
The CONCACAF heavyweights, who were fortunate to sneak into the playoff, won the two-legged tie 9-3 on aggregate after they had all but sealed qualification with a 5-1 victory over the Oceania champions at the Azteca Stadium last week.
"I'm very happy ...(though) we have a lot of work to do," Mexico coach Miguel Herrera told reporters through an interpreter. "Going to the World Cup is totally different than playing a game and we have a lot of work to do before that.
"It was very tough for us to make it.
"We have a lot of work to do on and off the field but we will mix both together and I think Mexico will do well in the World Cup."
Peralta had put their World Cup plans beyond doubt with a 14th minute goal before he completed his hat-trick with further strikes in the 29th and 33rd minutes to cement Mexico's sixth successive qualification, and 15th finals appearance.
New Zealand midfielder Chris James slotted an 80th-minute penalty for the home side after Mexico captain Rafael Marquez handled the ball in the area before Rory Fallon grabbed a second three minutes later.
Carlos Pena, who had been a danger the entire game, grabbed his side's fourth with three minutes remaining in regular time. Continued...