Mexico is unbeaten in 2013. El Tri also hasn't won in the calender year, posting six straight draws. The latest came in a 2-2 tie with Nigeria in a friendly in Houston.
A pair of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez goals bookended two first-half Nigeria strikes.
El Tri played with 10 men for an hour after Pablo Barrera was ejected.
Barrera had only played once for Mexico since August 2012, as he struggled to find fitness upon returning from Europe. But the winger very quickly showed that his sizzling form for Cruz Azul would carry over, creating El Tri's best chances of the opening half.
In the 10th minute, Barrera skimmed a low cross deep into the box. Hernandez clipped the ball over the goalkeeper from close range, and the shot rattled the crossbeam before bouncing out.
Five minutes later, Barrera stood the ball up to the back post. Aldo De Nigris hung in the air and directed his header on goal, where Austin Ejide plucked it out of the air.
Straight away, Nigeria put the ball in the back of the net, but Ideye Brown tapped in John Ogu's header from an offside position.
Barrera's creativity paid off in the 21st minute. From the end line, the 25-year-old curved in a grounded cross. Chicharito slipped between the two central defenders and one-timed his shot into the inside netting. Hernandez joined Enrique Borja with 31 goals for El Tri, fifth on the Mexican national team scoring charts.
A handful of minutes later, Barrera's game was over. Mexico blocked two shots in the box, the first by Jesus Corona and the second by Barrera. Referee Baldomero Toledo thought the ball hit Barrera's arm, which was tucked next to his torso, and awarded the penalty and sent off the Cruz Azul winger.
The ejection was the first red given to Mexico under Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre. In all, El Tri went 36 games and over two years without playing a man down.
Ideye easily finished the spot kick.
As the game settled down, effectively ruined as a contest, Nigeria scored another freak goal. John Ogu took a long-range shot which deflected off Gerardo Torrado and past Corona with five minutes remaining in the half.
In first-half stoppage time, De Nigris' poor finishing continued when he spurned an open shot fashioned by Andres Guadado.
Mexico made three changes at halftime, including hooking De Nigris. Nigeria swapped out two players.
Throughout the half, the substitutions persisted and the pace of the game dropped in front of 62,000 in Reliant Stadium.
With 20 minutes remaining, Chicharito met a Carlos Salcido cross at the near post and stabbed it past the goalkeeper. The Manchester United striker claimed fifth on the all-time El Tri scoring list outright, with 32 international goals in 47 appearances.
- Sports & Recreation
- Pablo Barrera
- Aldo De Nigris