Mexico picked off tiring Croatia with clinical precision, scoring three goals in an explosive finale to book a FIFA World Cup round of 16 meeting with the Netherlands at their opponent's expense.
Miguel Herrera's team were always in control but it was not until ex-FC Barcelona defender Rafael Márquez headed in with 18 minutes remaining that they gained a stranglehold. Andrés Guardado swiftly made it 2-0 after a lovely, incisive counterattack and by the 82nd minute Javier Hernández had wrapped things up. Ivan Perišić did became the first man to score against Mexico this World Cup, but Croatia's misery was more accurately summed up by a subsequent red card for Ante Rebić.
Croatia went into the Group A decider knowing only victory would guarantee a place in the knockout stages and they began brightly with Mario Mandžukić dropping back, taking defenders with him, to free up space for the wide men. It was subtle stuff but, on 16 minutes, Niko Kovač's men were almost undone in more direct style as Hector Herrera drove forward and played a quick one-two before sending in a tracer bullet that beat Stipe Pletikosa but not the underside of the crossbar.
From then on it was all Mexico. They resisted Croatia and the increasingly isolated Mandžukić at the back and posed a waspish threat going forward. As Croatia began to tire after the hour, they went up through the gears. Hector Herrera nearly scored direct from a corner, denied by Vedran Ćorluka's clearance, though a more routine delivery did the damage as Márquez rose to head it down past Pletikosa.
Within three minutes it was 2-0 as Hernández and Oribe Peralta combined brilliantly down the right, with the latter sweeping the ball across the penalty area for Guardado to fire in. The two goalscorers then combined to create a third as Guardado's corner from the right was glanced by Márquez perfectly into the path of Hernández, all alone at the far upright. Mexico's progress alongside section winners Brazil was assured.
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|1||Stipe Pletikosa (GK)||13||Guillermo Ochoa (GK)|
|4||Rafael Márquez (C)|
|5||Vedran Ćorluka||7||Miguel Layún|
|6||Dejan Lovren||10||Giovani dos Santos|
|10||Luka Modrić||18||Andrés Guardado|
|11||Darijo Srna (C)||19||Oribe Peralta|
|17||Mario Mandžukić||22||Paul Aguilar|
|23||Danijel Subašić (GK)||1||Jose Corona (GK)|
|12||Oliver Zelenika (GK)||12||Alfredo Talavera (GK)|
|8||Ognjen Vukojević||3||Carlos Salcido|
|13||Gordon Schildenfeld||8||Marco Fabian|
|14||Marcelo Brozović||9||Raúl Jiménez|
|15||Milan Badelj||11||Alan Pulido|
|19||Sammir||16||Miguel Angel Ponce|
|21||Domagoj Vida||20||Javier Aquino|
|Niko Kovač (CRO)||Miguel Herrera (MEX)|
|Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)|
|Abduxamidullo Rasulov (UZB), Bahadyr Kochkarov (KGZ)|
|Alioum Alioum (CMR)|