Mexico tops Israel in pre-World Cup friendly; Cuauhtemoc Blanco starts in farewell
One of Mexico's legends -- and all-time U.S. enemies -- received his El Tri send-off in an unusual fashion.
Mexico defeated Israel Wednesday night at Estadio Azteca 3-0 as part of its pre-World Cup preparations. And while most teams use their pre-World Cup time to fine-tune and work out the kinks ahead of some of the most important games they will ever play, the CONCACAF nation used the match as a testimonial of sorts for Cuauhtemoc Blanco. The 41-year-old Blanco just signed a deal with Puebla that will see him return to Mexico's top flight, but he officially bowed out from the international stage as a starter in the match.
Blanco is one of El Tri's most storied players, concluding his career with 120 caps and three World Cups. His start bumped the likes of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Raul Jimenez to the bench, which the Mexican federation indicated would be the case earlier in the week. Blanco, donning his traditional No. 10 jersey, played 38 minutes, exiting before the first of Miguel Layun's two goals. He was also given a golden boot keepsake and completed a victory lap around Azteca, soaking in his final moments in a Tri kit.
Layun scored in the 43rd and 62nd minutes, and Marco Fabian notched another to lead El Tri to the routine win. Miguel Herrera's side will play the remainder of its pre-World Cup matches in the United States: May 31 vs. Ecuador at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas; June 3 vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina at Soldier Field in Chicago; and June 6 vs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Highlights of Mexico's goals, and Blanco's farewell are below: