Mexico and manager Miguel Herrera took an odd path to the 2014 World Cup. After Mexico struggled mightily in CONCACAF qualifying, the former Mexican international and Club America manager became the national team's fourth leader in the span of a month in October 2013. He successfully guided them to World Cup qualification and four points from the first two group stage matches, including a hard-fought draw with hosts Brazil. With a win or draw against Croatia in Monday's final match of Group A, Mexico would improbably grab a spot in the Round of 16.
Minutes after a missed handball that denied Mexico a deserved penalty, El Tri took a 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute on a header from captain Rafael Marquez. Just three minutes later, Andres Guardado fired a shot into the back of the net to give Mexico a 2-0 advantage, virtually guaranteeing a spot in the knockout rounds.
Herrera got just a bit caught up in the moment. He tackled defender Paul Aguilar to the ground in celebration and then allowed goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to jump into his arms in a fit of joy. Check it out below:
Here's a super slo-mo clip of Herrera and Ochoa:
And here's Herrera's face forever frozen in some unholy mix of terror and delight:
If you're curious, Herrera has always had a pretty special look. Here are some shots of the glorious mullet he sported in his playing days:
Mexico added another goal in the 82nd minute before conceding a late, meaningless score to Croatia to come away with a 3-1 win. While both Brazil and Mexico won seven points from the group, the hosts' plus-5 goal differential to Mexico's plus-3 mark gives them the Group A victory and sets up a Round of 16 matchup with Chile. On Sunday, Mexico will face the Netherlands, Group B winners and one of the most impressive teams of the World Cup so far with three convincing wins, including a 5-1 demolition of defending champions Spain.
No matter the outcome of that match, Herrera's celebration and overall accomplishments with this group will remain indelible takeaways from Mexico's 2014 World Cup, and not just because he reminded us all of Chris Farley's "Saturday Night Live" performance as Rudy Giuliani's son Andrew. Mexico have gone from an embarrassing showing in CONCACAF to glory on the soccer's biggest stage. Given the moment, it's understandable why anyone would get so excited.
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