By AVI CREDITOR
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez figures to make his name overseas when he suits up for new club Manchester United later this summer. His breakout party might be happening right now, though.
Hernandez executed a perfectly timed run to beat France's offside trap and eventually keeper Hugo Lloris in the 64th minute, and Cuauhtemoc Blanco later converted a penalty kick to give Mexico a 2-0 victory over Les Bleus in a critical Group A match.
The victory brings Mexico to the cusp of reaching the knockout stage, while the loss sends France, the 2006 runner-up, tumbling toward an early exit.
Chicharito entered the match in the 55th minute and didn't take long to make an impact. He ran onto Rafael Marquez' long through ball and trotted in on goal all alone as defenders presumed he was offside. Lloris came out to force Hernandez to make a move, and the 22-year-old took a touch to the right before confidently scoring and setting off a Mexican celebration.
Blanco scored in the 79th minute, becoming the first Mexican to score in three World Cups, by finishing from the spot after Eric Abidal fouled Pablo Barrera in the box.
Mexico will face co-group-leader Uruguay on Tuesday, with a draw sending both teams through. France and host South Africa, both three points behind the leaders, each need to win and make up a hefty goal differential to entertain thoughts of miraculously making it to the knockout stage.
Here are the highlights from Mexico's victory:
ARGENTINA 4, SOUTH KOREA 1
Gonzalo Higuain was the beneficiary of some fantastic team passing, as the Real Madrid striker became the first player to record a World Cup hat trick since 2002 in the one-sided victory.
A Lionel Messi free kick resulted in a Park Chu-Young own-goal in the 17th minute to open the scoring. Higuain doubled the margin in the 33rd minute by heading home Nicolas Burdisso's flick-on from short range and seemingly giving Argentina total control.
Martin Demichelis' lack of awareness allowed Lee Chung-Yong to swoop in and score a goal at the end of the first half, but Messi, Higuain and substitute Sergio Aguero put on an offensive clinic to finish the match.
Messi's rebound off his own miss in the 76th minute deflected off the left post and right to Higuain, who tapped it in at the goal mouth for the 3-1 lead. On another breakout four minutes later, Messi delivered a sensational chip to Aguero on the left, who crossed to Higuain by the far post. Higuain's pinpoint header capped off his historic night and gave him the lead in the race for the tournament's Golden Boot.
The win, which gave Argentina control of Group B with six points, might have come at a cost, as star defender Walter Samuel had to limp off in the 24th minute with an apparent leg injury.
Here are highlights from the match:
GREECE 2, NIGERIA 1
The Greeks took advantage of a foolish Sani Kaita decision that earned him a red card, scoring the country's first two World Cup goals in earning the country's first-ever World Cup victory in a must-win situation.
Kaita unnecessarily shoved and attempted to kick Vasilis Torosidis after being taunted with the ball out of play in the 33rd minute. Referee Oscar Ruiz only punished the retaliation and delivered the card to send Nigeria, 1-0 leaders at the time, down to 10 men.
It didn't take long for Greece to seize control of the match.
Dimitrios Salpingidis beat keeper Vincent Enyeama on a deflected shot right before halftime to pull Greece level, and Torosidis took advantage of a rare Enyeama mistake, touching home a rebound in the 71st minute for the winner.
Aside from allowing the rebound, Enyeama was brilliant in goal again, making acrobatic, point-blank, reflexive saves while being peppered by Greece shots. He made nine saves, a game after stopping six shots from Argentina.
Kalu Uche had given Nigeria the early lead after his long free kick from the left went untouched into the goal in the 16th minute. Peter Odimwingie had cut across the goal and keeper Alexandros Tzorvas anticipated a deflection, but it never came.
All is not lost for the Super Eagles despite starting the World Cup 0-2-0. Should they defeat South Korea and Greece fall to Argentina, they can still get out of Group B and through to the knockout stage.
Here are highlights from the match:
Think Mexico can win its group? Should Chicharito be starting? Believing that Maradona can take Argentina all the way? Who, besides Argentina, do you think makes it out of Group B?
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