Colombia beats Mexico 2-0 in friendly
MIAMI (AP) - Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado scored as Colombia defeated Mexico 2-0 in new Colombia coach Jose Pekerman's debut Wednesday night.
The exhibition attracted 51,615 fans, the second-largest crowd for a soccer match in Sun Life Stadium history.
"Our players displayed will and determination throughout the match,'' Pekerman said. "Mexico had been playing at a high level of football and we were able to win.''
Falcao gave Colombia a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute. Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa deflected but failed to clear Dorlan Pabon's shot from the right wing. Falcao retrieved the loose ball and tapped in a shot from inside the 6-yard box.
Pekerman, a former Argentina national team coach, took over Colombia's squad in January, replacing Leonel Alvarez.
Colombia's speed on the wings resulted in repeated runs on goal and constant pressure against Ochoa.
Mexico's best opportunity at reducing the 1-0 deficit came in the 51st minute. Carlos Salcido's open shot from 25 yards rolled wide off the left post.
Cuadrado's goal in the 59th minute put Mexico in a deeper hole. James Rodriguez sent a pass to Pablo Armero toward the left wing. Armero dribbled toward the penalty area and sent a centering pass to Cuadrado near the far post, where he converted on his shot from 10 yards.
"I am truly happy that we were able to win this game,'' Cuadrado said. "We have to keep working hard because we know of the difficult task ahead of us.''
Before Falcao's goal, Colombia repeatedly pressured the Mexico defense. In the 33rd minute, Pabon received Armero's pass deep in the penalty area and eluded Ochoa. But defender Hector Moreno deflected Pabon's shot off the field of play.
Falcao found an opening a couple of yards inside the large area in the ninth minute but Ochoa stopped his 18-yard shot.
Jesus Zavala had Mexico's best scoring opportunity of the first half. Pablo Barrera's pass found Zavala near the 6-yard box but his sliding shot hit the right post in the 21st minute.
"I prefer to give Colombia the credit rather than what we lacked,'' Mexico coach Jose De La Torre said. "Obviously, they made plays that we couldn't contain.''
Pekerman, a former Argentina national team coach, took over Colombia's squad in January. Pekerman also credited the work of his two immediate predecessors, Alvarez and Hernan Dario Gomez.
"This group can continue to make progress,'' Pekerman said.
Colombia resumes South American World Cup qualifiers against Peru on June 2. Mexico will play its first CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Guyana on June 8.