Mexico came out of their shell in their final FIFA Confederations Cup match as Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez bagged a second-half brace of headers to beat Japan 2-1, leaving the Samurai Blue bottom of Group A.
Shinji Okazaki gave Japan hope in the final moments with a fine finish, but it wasn’t enough as El Tri grabbed the win, with Hernandez even missing a late penalty.
With both sides unable to advance to the semi-finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup, Japan and Mexico were both eager to leave Brazil with a win.
The best chance of the opening period came late on in the half, with a snap header by Mexico's Andres Guardado from eight yards out. Eiji Kawashima was left stranded, but the post came to Japan’s rescue.
Chicharito comes alive
Mexico were the stronger side at the beginning of the second-half, and they were rewarded nine minutes after the restart. 'Chicharito' opened the scoring as he headed home Guardado’s cross, beating Kawashima to the ball.
The Manchester United man doubled Mexico's advantage six minutes later. Giovani Dos Santos’ corner found Mexico's No14 at the far post who made no mistake with a downward header.
The Samurai Blue came back into the match and continued to press forward. They were given some consolation when Okazaki coolly finished Yasuhito Endo’s cross in the 86th minute.
As Japan launched more men forward in the final minutes looking for the equaliser, Mexico were awarded a penalty-kick when Hernandez was brought down inside the area by substitute Atsuto Uchida.
Mexico's talisman did not complete his hat-trick though, as Kawashima made a brilliant diving save, and the Mexico striker then smashed the ball off the crossbar from the rebound.
Japan managed another attack in Mexico's final third, but the second goal did not come for the Samurai Blue. The victory for Mexico may not have been enough to see them through to the next stage of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but it will surely give them added confidence heading into their final FIFA World Cup™ qualifying matches.