Mexico 2-1 Panama: El Tri player ratings

Posted by Tom Marshall

ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty ImagesOribe Peralta celebrates Mexico's first goal in a 2-1 victory over Panama.

If Mexico needed a moment of sheer magic to shake it out of abject mediocrity so late in World Cup qualifying, it certainly got it Friday.

Only 95 minutes of the CONCACAF Hexagonal remained for Mexico and Panama had just equalized when Raul Jimenez set himself up for an audacious overhead kick, which struck the post and went into the net to send the Azteca into raptures.

Aside from that moment, it was another generally lackluster performance from Mexico, especially after Jaime Penedo saved Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez's weak penalty in the 58th minute to give hope to Panama.

Victor Manuel Vucetich shifted up the starting XI radically, with only Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos and Jesus Zavala surviving the cull from last month's game against the United States.

But when Panama equalized through Toluca's Luis Tejada in the 81st, it looked as though the same demons that have haunted Mexico in World Cup qualifying were back.

Then Jimenez stepped up to keep qualification for Brazil 2014 in Mexico's hands.

Player ratings (Out of 10, 10 = best):

Guillermo Ochoa, GK -- 6: Didn't look completely authoritative for Panama's goal, but it would be unfair to place the blame on the Ajaccio keeper's shoulders. Aside from that, he wasn't called into action very regularly at all, but dealt with what he had comfortably.

Miguel Layun, RB -- 7: The best performance for a right back in a Mexico shirt as there has been this year. Layun displayed good crossing and penetration in the final third and held himself very well in his defensive duties.

Rafa Marquez, CB -- 7: The Leon defender led Mexico out and within 15 minutes showed the class in his passing and leadership that have set him apart for most his career. Constantly talking to the players around him, Vucetich's decision to recall Marquez was wholly justified.

Hugo Ayala, CB -- 5: At fault for Panama's goal, Ayala is unlikely to be the solution at center back once Hector Moreno returns from injury. Having said that, the Tigres player did deal well with high balls into the box and a physical Panama offense.

Jorge Torres Nilo, LB -- 6: Replays showed the Tigres player was also slightly out of position for Panama's equalizer, but apart from that it was a quality performance from Nilo, chasing up and down the flank with stamina that Carlos Salcido can no longer match.

Jesus Zavala, CM -- 6: A quietly positive game from the Monterrey player in the holding midfield role that justified the new coach's decision to start him ahead of Gerardo Torrado. Zavala dropped very deep at times, which allowed the full-backs to push forward.

Carlos Pena, CM -- 8: A big performance full of personality from a player that has been underwhelming so far for Mexico. Pena drove the midfield for El Tri, became the lungs of the side and played a key role in Mexico's opener. The only complaint is that he was liable to giving the ball away a little too easily on occasions.

Giovani Dos Santos, RM -- 5: The Villarreal forward was unable to get a grip on the game and went missing for long periods. There will be a debate both in the media and among Vucetich's staff about how to best use Dos Santos, because he didn't cut it on the wing on Friday.

Javier Aquino, LM -- 6: Started brightly and looked to cause problems for Panama with his direct running, having two efforts at goal in the first half. After the break he petered out and was an obvious candidate to be replaced.

Oribe Peralta, CF -- 8: An outstanding night for Peralta due to the sublime finish for Mexico's first, but also his work rate and class on the ball. The Santos Laguna striker made a stark statement that he doesn't want to give up his place in the team.

Javier Hernandez, CF -- 4: A night to forget for Chicharito, who burst into tears at the end of the game. The Manchester United player hit a weak penalty when the pressure was on. The bright spot was Hernandez linking up well with Peralta for Mexico's first.

Substitutes

Christian "Chaco" Gimenez (for Aquino, 66) -- 7: Finished the game with a cut, but was quality in his passing when he came on, looking right in place with the national team.

Fernando Arce (for Dos Santos, 76) -- 6
: Wasn't really on long enough to make a big impact, but the veteran was tidy in general.

Raul Jimenez (for Zavala, 84) -- 9: The 22-year-old scored a goal that will live in the memory for a long time and one that few players could pull off.

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