NATAL, BRAZIL – With torrential rain pouring down and two goals already contentiously disallowed, tens of thousands of soggy but boisterous Mexico fans were getting nervous.
They had already started chanting for Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, the striker benched in favor of Oribe Peralta, to come on and deliver a game winner.
Seconds after the chant began, Peralta scored in the 61st minute to help Mexico to a 1-0 victory Friday and the three points it needed to have any chance of advancing from a tough Group A at the World Cup.
Peralta’s goal gave Mexico its first win over an African team at the World Cup and justified coach Miguel Herrera’s faith that he could deliver on the biggest stage in the world.
A non-factor most of the first half, Peralta broke the deadlock with his left foot after Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje parried Giovanni Dos Santos’ attempt from the edge of the area.
The goal relieved the pressure that had been building steadily after Dos Santos had two goals disallowed in the first half, frustrating a Mexican team that was controlling the game with its speed and ball possession.
“We could have scored more, but unfortunately we’re not used to these conditions,” Herrera said. “Frankly, the refereeing took away two clear goals, but . . . we get to the next match with three points and very high spirits.”
Tournament host Brazil leads the group after a 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening game. Mexico plays Brazil on Tuesday in Fortaleza.