Mexico keep their heads to triumph in Natal rain

Fri Jun 13, 2014 5:04pm EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

NATAL Brazil (Reuters) - Mexico kept their eyes firmly on the prize through a Natal rainstorm and two controversially disallowed first-half goals to run out deserved 1-0 winners over Cameroon in their World Cup opener on Friday.

Oribe Peralta's 61st minute strike was just reward for the attacking intent they showed throughout and turned Mexican fury at the two Giovani dos Santos efforts being rubbed out into unbridled joy.

With the chaos of their qualifying campaign now a fading memory, Mexico and their thousands of fans move on to their meeting with hosts Brazil charged with confidence that they can finish above Cameroon and Croatia and qualify from Group A.

"The team surpassed my expectations on the pitch," coach Miguel Herrera told reporters.

"We had a lot of opportunities to score goals and we ran hard. I'm thrilled because the team worked collectively and left everything on the pitch."

For Cameroon, branded traitors by critics back home after the player strike over bonuses that delayed their arrival in Brazil, a fifth successive World Cup defeat means they face an uphill task in avoiding another first round exit.

Coach Volker Finke had packed his midfield in a failed attempt to stifle the effervescent Mexicans and his lone striker Samuel Eto'o failed to make the most of his few opportunities.

After a week of mostly sunny weather befitting a beachside resort city, the skies opened a couple of hours before kickoff to leave a rain-saturated pitch and the largely Mexican crowd shrouded in plastic macs.   Continued...

Mexico's Oribe Peralta celebrates his goal against Cameroon during their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal June 13, 2014.  REUTERS/Jorge Silva