A stoppage time penalty at the end of the first-half was to take Mexico past Croatia in the final opening group match, meaning all 32 sides have now played at this summer’s World Cup. 25-year old Pumas UNAM striker Erick Torres converted for his 12th international goal.
Mexico’s competitive record now reads just one defeat and twelve wins over the past year as the CONCACAF Gold Cup winners beat their European opposition – ranked 6th in the world – in Volgograd tonight.
The match-defining moment came with the clock showing 45:23 as the fourth official had just finished indicating two additional minutes. Torres’s run to the edge of the box opened the Croatian defence, and he found Javier Hernández who was felled by Domagoj Vida.
Uzbek referee Irmatov pointed to the spot, and up-stepped Torres to send Blazevic the wrong way and Mexico went into the break with a goal advantage. They had the better of it in the second-half, and despite a late rally from Croatia to attempt to snatch a point through Rakitic and then Corluka, it remained 1-0.
Next up for Mexico are Scotland on Monday, with Croatia facing Colombia.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H CROATIA 0-1 MEXICO Torres pen 45+1 Vrsaljko Esparza Buljat Modric