MIAMI — It took Mexico a little while to find its feet, but in the end El Tri did more than enough to start 2016 on a positive note.
Second-half headers from Jesus Duenas and substitute Rodolfo Pizarro allowed Mexico to overcome a subpar first 45 minutes and defeat Senegal, 2-0, in a friendly at Marlins Park on a chilly Wednesday night.
Duenas found the winner for Juan Carlos Osorio’s side in the 73rd minute, and Pizarro put the game out of reach three minutes before the final whistle.
The victory improved Mexico to 3-0 under the guidance of Osorio, who was appointed head coach last fall and is still exploring his player pool ahead of March’s World Cup qualifiers.
El Tri, which fielded mostly reserves, bossed possession throughout much of the match played in front of 15,588 fans. Still, it was Senegal that looked the more dangerous team in the first half, using counterattacks to test Mexico’s back line.
The African nation nearly went ahead in the 28th minute when it forced a turnover in El Tri’s half. The play ended with Dame Gueye getting on the end of a low cross, but he failed to make clean contact on his shot and that allowed goalkeeper Jesus Corona to scurry across the goal line to push the ball wide.
Mexico also had opportunities in the opening stanza, though they were not as clear as Gueye’s effort. The CONCACAF champion had the first look of the game 18 minutes when Hirving Lozano unleashed a shot from the left side of the penalty area that hit the wrong side of the net.
Mexico right back Gerardo Flores nearly struck two minutes later, tracking down a corner kick and heading the ball just over the crossbar.
Osorio made some changes at halftime, and it helped El Tri find a groove. The Mexicans came up with a quality chance four minutes after the break, but Eduardo Herrera’s potent headed was parried away spectacularly by Senegal goalkeeper Pape Seydou Ndiaye.
A 62nd-minute turnover near midfield nearly came back to haunt Mexico, as substitute Senegal forward Ibrahima Diop galloped forward before cutting back on his left and bending a low shot wide of the mark.
El Tri ultimately broke the deadlock. Candid Ramirez whipped in a gorgeous cross from the left, and Duenas took advantage of lax marking by slipping in between a pair of defenders before nodding the ball home.
Senegal tried to be more aggressive in the attack after that, but another cross ensured that it would not be able to mount a comeback. The service came from the right this time, as Lozano floated in a ball that the unmarked Pizarro met with a snap header that nicked off the near post and went in.
Pizarro almost added another goal in the 90th minute, but his low shot curled wide.
The Mexicans will now set theirs sights on the upcoming pair of World Cup qualifiers against Canada. They play the Canadians on the road on March 25, and then take the role of host in a rematch four days alter.