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2:30 PM ET, June 17, 2010
Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane, South Africa
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Toothless France teeters on cusp of elimination after falling to Mexico
POLOKWANE, South Africa -- "Chicharito" was too big for France.Mexico's Javier Hernandez, whose nickname means "Little Green Pea," emulated his grandfather by a scoring a World Cup goal against France. One major difference: His was in a victory.Substitutes Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco each scored in Mexico's 2-0 win over France on Thursday, leaving El Tri needing only a draw to reach the next round.Hernandez ran onto Rafael Marquez's pass as the France defense stopped, believing Hernandez was offside. He dribbled around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris before guiding the ball home in the 64th minute.Hernandez's grandfather, Tomas Balcazar, scored for Mexico against France in the 1954 World Cup, but El Tri lost."I remembered my grandfather in the locker room," Hernandez said. "I haven't spoken to my family yet; they're my main motivation."Thank God I could score. More importantly, we could win against a team we hadn't been able to beat in a long time."Blanco put in a penalty kick in the 79th minute after Eric Abidal fouled another substitute, Pablo Barrera. Abidal was caught out of position on both goals while playing center half instead of his usual left back."We feel a great disappointment and sadness," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "We struggled. At the moment I really don't have an explanation for it."We should still be proud enough to look forward to winning our next match. There is still an infinitesimally small chance that we will go through."Mexico next plays Uruguay, which also needs a draw to advance. France has only one point and has to beat South Africa and hope Mexico and Uruguay don't tie their match in Tuesday's final group games."We have to enjoy this win," Marquez said. "We have to go step by step and be calm."Mexico fans taunted the French with cries of "Ole! Ole!" as the clock wound down and vuvuzelas blasted. France fans were heavily outnumbered by flag-waving Mexico supporters who packed each end of Peter Mokaba Stadium and unfurled a 30-yard flag.For France, it seems like a repeat of the 2008 European Championship, with a 0-0 tie followed by a defeat, and Domenech's controversial six years in charge could end in more embarrassment."We're not going to go out of this tournament without winning a match," France winger Florent Malouda said. "It's shameful to lose like that. It's a question of saving our honor."Mexico coach Javier Aguirre outcoached Domenech, with all three substitutes making an impact.Aguirre brought on Barrera after 31 minutes, while Carlos Vela came off and had trainers work on his right thigh. Aguirre said Vela will miss the match with Uruguay.Mexico finished the first half strongly, and Giovani Dos Santos fired a low shot just wide after chesting the ball down expertly and slipping Patrice Evra's defending with alarming ease.It was a sign of things to come for Mexico.