El Tri player grades: New Zealand 2, Mexico 4

Posted by Tom Marshall

At times, Wednesday morning's World Cup playoff second leg in Wellington resembled a schoolyard kick-about, but El Tri's fans, players and federation won't care one little bit: Mexico is going to Brazil.

How much we can read into a game in which New Zealand offered very little is debatable, with El Tri coasting to a 4-2 win, but we certainly saw some of the same attitude and confidence in Mexico's players that was on display in the 5-1 victory last week in the Estadio Azteca.

What comes next in terms of who coaches the team on a full-time basis and what the situation is with the Europe-based players will have to wait, but the Club America-dominated first XI that have dragged Mexico over the qualifying line over the past week have done their chances of continuing to be called up no harm at all.

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

Moises Munoz, GK -- 7: Munoz was perhaps unlucky to concede a penalty just before halftime, but he saved it with consummate ease. Aside from that, Munoz had little to do except for coming out for crosses, which he handled well.

Juan Carlos Valenzuela, RCB -- 7: One of the starters whose position will be under severe threat when the Europe-based players are back in contention, Valenzuela dealt well with aerial balls and gave a solid performance against a weak attack.

Rafa Marquez, CB -- 6: Confident and assured in possession, the former Barcelona man had an easy night as captain until he gave away a penalty 10 minutes from the end.

Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, LCB -- 6: Coped well and once again proved that his size and frame are assets against teams that are physically strong. On the negative side, Maza was out of position for New Zealand's second.

Paul Aguilar, RWB -- 6: A little bit lucky to survive a penalty claim against him in the 75th, Aguilar pressured high up as Mexico neutralized New Zealand in the first half, but was noticeably quieter after the break.

Miguel Layun, LWB -- 6: Once again showed his explosiveness on the left flank is a major asset, as is his ability to beat a defender. Spawned a good chance in the 71st when he shot instead of squaring the ball.

Juan Carlos Medina, DM -- 7: Goes about his job with little fuss, almost going unnoticed at times, but Medina's role is key in gluing the midfield together and he carried it out with aplomb on Wednesday.

Carlos Pena, AM -- 8: Capped off a fine performance with a deserved goal. Pena was a thorn in New Zealand's side in the first half, setting up two goals and putting strikers clean through on goal on four separate occasions.

Luis Montes, AM -- 6: Overshadowed by Pena on the night and picked up a needless yellow card early on but was bright overall.

Raul Jimenez, CF -- 5: The striker should've done better with one-on-one chances in the 25th and 37th and will be disappointed with his performance, especially with Javier Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos vying for his position.

Oribe Peralta, CF -- 9: The hat-trick hero and deservedly so after a great year for the national team. Peralta has 10 goals in nine games for El Tri in 2013, and it was appropriate that he was the player to confirm Mexico's presence in Brazil next summer. At times looks unstoppable in his current run of form.

Substitutes

Alonso Escoboza (for Montes, 58) -- 6: Wasn't involved too much as the game petered out.

Aldo de Nigris (for Jimenez, 68) -- N/A: Not really on the field long enough to make an impact.

Sinha (for Peralta, 76) -- N/A: Like De Nigris, didn't do enough to warrant a grade.

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