Wolves star Raul Jimenez was forced to take a back seat – quite literally – as Mexico beat the United States 3-0 in a friendly.
Jimenez watched on as an unused substitute as Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez made the most of his chance with a typical poacher’s goal at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
PSV Eindhoven midfielder Erick Gutierrez made it 2-0 in the 78th minute and Manchester City midfielder Uriel Antuna, who is on loan at Los Angeles Galaxy, added the third four minutes later.
Much of the talk around Mexico’s centre-forward position has been of Jimenez surpassing Sevilla striker Hernandez as the starter since coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino took over in early 2019. And when a striker has scored eight goals in a month like Jimenez just has, it’s going to be difficult to dislodge him. “Raul is our most important forward, I’m talking about Mexican football, not just in this competition, but overall,” said Martino during this summer’s Gold Cup.
Former Real Madrid and Manchester United striker Hernandez is 31, three years older than Jimenez, and he expects the competition for his place. “It surprises me that there being more competition now is talked about,” Hernandez told TUDN after Friday’s game. “It’s always there. It’s the bread and butter of football.”
But Mexico’s all-time top scorer, who actually had a better ratio of goals to minutes played in the Premier League with West Ham last season than Jimenez, provided a timely reminder on Friday of why he’ll continue to push his team-mate for the regular start in the Qatar 2022 qualifying.
With 51 international goals from 108 caps, he’s not the kind of player who is simply discarded. For his latest goal, Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona took the ball down the right wing midway through the first half, nutmegged Sergino Dest and crossed for Hernandez to head home and round off a goal of real quality.
The replay showed Hernandez doing what he does best, finding space inside the penalty area and providing the finishing touch. But that only tells some of the story of arguably Mexico’s best goal under Martino so far. And much of it had to do with Hernandez’s build-up play as his side were superior to the United States in most departments to cruise to victory.
Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White made his first start for England Under-21s as Aidy Boothroyd’s side came from behind to beat Turkey away 3-2. Two goals in as many second-half minutes helped the Young Lions win their opening Euro U21 qualifier, with the Molineux youngster playing the full game.
Leeds United loanee Eddie Nketiah gave Boothroyd’s side an early lead but Dogukan Sinik replied midway through the first half and Mert Muldur edged the hosts in front shortly after the restart.
Nketiah levelled on 74 minutes after some good work by Manchester City’s Phil Foden, and Arsenal forward Reiss Nelson completed the comeback with a deflected strike just 60 seconds later.
It means the Lions open their Group 3 campaign with a victory – and next up is table-toppers Kosovo, who have won their opening two matches, in Hull on Monday.