wit..."/> wit..."/>

Elías Hernández shines in Mexico’s 3-1 win over El Salvador

SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 29: Mexico players huddle prior to the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Semi-Final between Germany and Mexico at Fisht Olympic Stadium on June 29, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 29: Mexico players huddle prior to the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Semi-Final between Germany and Mexico at Fisht Olympic Stadium on June 29, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images) /

The Club León winger scored a goal and had two assists, helping Mexico knockoff El Salvador 3-1.

Even without head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, Mexico came out on top in its Gold Cup opener. Despite the 3-1 victory, Mexico still had its fair share of struggles against El Salvador.

In the first half, the Central America side pressured the ball well. They prevented Mexico’s midfielders from moving down the wings and creating scoring chances.

La Selecta also looked potent up top. Striker Rodolfo Zelaya (Alianza) had a great look against Mexico in the third minute. Zelaya was a nuisance for the Mexican backline and forced goalkeeper Jose Corona (Cruz Azul) to stay on his toes.

Even though El Salvador controlled the flow of the game early on, it only took Mexico one opportunity to score. The goal came off of a free-kick.

Chivas defender Hegardo Marin was able to head a pass from Elías Hernández past the Salvadoran goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead. The pass from Hernández was incredible.

Despite the quick goal from Mexico, it took El Salvador only two minutes to equalize. Striker Nelson Bonilla (C.D. Nacional) shot the ball near the left post, past Corona for the goal.

It was an excellent finish from the Salvadoran striker. Mexican defender Hugo Ayala (Tigres) lost Bonilla on the run. His mistake cost El Tri the lead.

Fortunately for El Tri, things did get better in the half. The Central American side ran out of steam after the 30-minute mark.

La Selecta stopped pressuring hard and looked sloppy defensively. Then Mexico’s midfielders started to find their rhythm.

Then in the 29th minute, El Tri earned a set piece. Elías Hernández shot a volley to the right side of the goal and scored. The assist came from Jesus Gallardo of Pumas.

Second Half

At halftime, midfielders Orbelin Pineda (Chivas) and Jesus Molina (Monterrey) entered the game for Mexico. The duo made a big difference throughout the game.

As the Salvadoran side tried to counter, Molina was often there to stifle the attack. Then up top, Pineda helped spark the Mexican attack.

The Salvadorans tried sitting back, waiting for Mexico to make a mistake. Then El Tri made them pay for it.

In the 55th minute, Hernández made a strong run down the right wing. Next, he was able to find some space and got off a great pass to Pineda. Then the Chivas midfielder put it behind the net to give Mexico a 3-1 lead.

El Tri continued to dominate the rest of the game. They went on to win 3-1.

Analysis for El Salvador

La Selecta looked great at that start of the first half. They moved the ball well and had several scoring opportunities against Mexico.

Players like Zelaya and Bonilla were fantastic. Their dribbling and quickness with the ball was great. Mexico’s defenders couldn’t keep up.

However, things went sour once El Salvador stopped pressuring Mexico. They gave El Tri too much space to move the ball. They also had too many players up top waiting for a counter.

Had El Salvador held the ball more and controlled the tempo of the game, they would have had a better result. La Selecta needs to work on possession moving forward. The opportunities to score are there, they just need more of them.

If La Selecta plays as aggressively as they did against Mexico in the first half, they should be able to beat Curaçao.

Analysis for Mexico

Mexico played pretty well for the most part. The first half wasn’t great though. Then El Tri made a few subs and took complete control of the game. There were several players that stood out for Mexico.

Midfielders Pineda and Pizarro both put on great performances. They both gave La Selecta plenty of trouble. Defender Edson Alvarez (Ameríca) also had a great game. He cleared most of the threats in the box and stifled the Salvadoran strikers.

However, the obvious man of the match is Elías Hernández, who had a goal and two assists. The midfielder was involved in all three of Mexico’s goals. His passes were precise and threatening. If he keeps playing at this level, Osorio will likely bring him into the senior Mexico squad.

Although El Tri looked great offensively, the defense still looked shaky. Ayala should have done better against Bonilla on the first goal. Reyes and Ayala gave the Salvadoran strikers too much space to dribble and shoot near the box.

Next: Costa Rica 1-0 Honduras: Ticos prevail in Group A clash

The Mexican side will need to defend more aggressively against Jamaica. They are a much quicker and more physical than El Salvador. Therefore, there is little room for error against the Reggae Boyz in Group C.