Zinha magic helps Mexico win


Hanover, June 16:

A touch of class from Brazilian-born forward Zinha helped Mexico come from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in their Group B opener at the Confederations Cup on Thursday. Mexico, trailing to Atsushi Yanagisawa’s 12th minute tap-in and struggling to get through a packed midfield, got their equaliser six minutes before the break when Zinha sent a perfectly-flighted shot into the top right corner from over 20 metres. Mexico dominated for the remainder of the game and clinched victory when Jose Fonseca leapt and twisted in the air to guide in a Luis Perez cross in the 64th minute. The new 44,000 capacity stadium in Hanover was barely half full as the match kicked off in hazy evening sun. Those who bought tickets for a foretaste of next year’s World Cup were rewarded with a game full of bustle, as Mexico pushed forward and Japan looked to hit on the break.

Zinha’s pass out wide gave space for Jaime Lozano to fire in a cross that struck Fonseca and flashed wide inside the first minute. Japan, with their qualification for the World Cup already secure, gradually gained composure before moving ahead with only their second attack.

Akira Kaji caught the Mexican defence on their heels as he raced down the right and pulled the ball back for Yanagisawa to nip in ahead of Ricardo Osorio and convert for a simple opener. Jared Borgetti, Mexico’s leading scorer, almost supplied the equaliser with a point-blank header in the 27th minute but Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi produced a fine save. Mexico created few other clear chances before Zinha changed the game, rolling the ball forward to tee himself up well outside the box and producing a perfect strike. Japan struggled to make much headway in the second half. A flashing drive from substitute Junichi Inamoto was the closest they came before Fonseca’s acrobatic leap gave Mexico a win they fully deserved.