Mexico vs. Japan, 2013 Confederations Cup: Final score 2-1, Chicharito stellar for El Tri

Ronald Martinez

'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez looked like he was in top form for the first time in 2013 on Saturday, scoring twice to sink Japan.

Mexico and Japan suffered the same fate in the Confederations Cup by getting eliminated before their final game this weekend, but El Tri will be going home as the happier of the two teams. They also might have bought manager 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre a bit of breathing room with their performance as 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez finally looked like himself, scoring twice in Mexico's 2-1 win.

Japan were all over Mexico early and were probably a bit unlucky to never take the lead as 'Memo' Guillermo Ochoa was forced into a tough save on Shinji Kagawa in the 5th minute and was under pressure for most of the first half. Mexico started to play better around the 25 minute mark, though, and had a great chance of their own in the 40th minute when Andres Guardado nearly opened the scoring on a diving header. The shot attempt hit the post, however, and the teams went into halftime with a scoreless tie.

El Tri showed much more urgency at the start of the second half, needing less than 10 minutes to take the lead. Chicharito scored on a signature poacher's effort, timing his run perfectly to get on the end of a cross by Guardado and nodding the ball into the back of the net. He doubled his team's lead 12 minutes later with another header, this time on a corner after being assisted by a flick towards the back post from Hiram Mier.

Things got a bit nervy at the finish thanks to Shinji Okazaki, who pulled Japan back into the game with an 86th minute goal. Kagawa, who was probably the man of the match for his country, set Ozaki up with a square ball across the face of goal that Okazaki tapped in past Ochoa. Ochoa got a hand to the ball, but couldn't parry the shot away to keep Japan scoreless.

Chicharito had a chance to net a hat trick in stoppage time when he was shoved down in the box by Atsuto Uchida which led the referee to point to the penalty spot. Hernandez's first effort from the spot was saved by Eiji Kawashima, however, and he slammed his follow-up effort into the crossbar.

Chicharito will be disappointed on missing out on a hat trick (and the semifinals), but should be satisfied with the win and his performance.

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