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Mexico moves closer

Greece finally wins first match

Associated Press / June 18, 2010

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“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 scored in Mexico’s 2-0 win over France yesterday in Polokwane, South Africa, 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.

“We should still be proud enough to look forward to winning our next match,’’ France coach Raymond Domenech said. “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 1 point and has to beat South Africa and hope Mexico and Uruguay don’t tie their match in Tuesday’s final group games.

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.

Greece 2, Nigeria 1 — Vassilis Torosidis poked home a loose ball in the 71st minute as the Greeks claimed their first World Cup win by rallying to beat 10-man Nigeria in Group B play in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Torosidis scored off a mistake from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama to make history for Greece, which had lost all four previous World Cup matches, including three in 1994.

“We badly wanted this, because we’d never even scored a goal in the World Cup before,’’ striker Dimitrios Salpingidis said. “I can’t say whether we’ll make it out of the group. But I can say that we’ll leave with our heads held high.’’

Nigeria opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Kalu Uche’s curling free kick from 35 yards deceived everyone, particularly goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas, who moved the wrong way.

But the game changed in the 33d minute when Nigeria midfielder Sani Kaita was shown a straight red card for kicking Torosidis.

Salpingidis tied the match in the 44th minute with a deflected shot before Torosidis’s winner.

Nigeria broke through first when Uche’s free kick sailed over the heads of Costas Katsouranis and Nigeria’s Peter Odemwingie and into the far corner of the net.

Argentina 4, South Korea 1 — Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat trick as the stylish Albiceleste cruised in Johannesburg, giving them 6 points off two victories in Group B.

The Argentines had 11 shots on goal to just two for South Korea and controlled possession for 57 percent of the match.

The Argentines took the lead in the 17th minute when Park Chu-Young deflected in a free kick from Lionel Messi. Higuain made it 2-0 in the 33d after Nicolas Burdisso passed along a cross from Maxi Rodriguez.

In first-half injury time, Lee Chung-Yong pounced on a defensive mistake to close the gap, but Higuain’s two second-half goals — in the 76th and 80th minutes — put the game away.

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