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Soccer-Pulido hits debut hat-trick as Mexico crush Koreans

Reuters

* Mexico find finishing touch in World Cup warm-up

* Pulido makes case for place in Mexico's finals squad (Adds quotes, detail)

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Young striker Alan Pulido marked his international debut with a hat-trick as Mexico overcame past poor finishing woes with a crushing 4-0 win over South Korea in a World Cup warm-up in Texas on Wednesday.

Olympic gold medal-winning striker Oribe Peralta put the Mexicans ahead in the 37th minute when he turned and shot home from Miguel Ponce's left cross in the friendly at the Alamodrome in San Antonio, Texas.

The 22-year-old Pulido, showing predator instincts in tight situations in the area to make a case for inclusion in coach Miguel Herrera's World Cup squad, got off the mark on the stroke of halftime touching home in a goal-mouth melee.

"Pulido is a player who fights (for the ball) and puts it away, that's what we need," Herrera told reporters.

"I'm happy with what the lads showed, (Isaac) Brizuela and Pulido stood out. I'm pleased we had no serious mistakes. Some of these players are in competition (for World Cup places)."

Pulido added two goals in the final four minutes in counter-attacks for Mexico, who had struggled to find the net in the CONCACAF qualifiers and very nearly missed out on the Brazil finals before demolishing New Zealand in a playoff.

"I didn't imagine my debut to be like this, it's not something you expect," said Pulido.

Speedy California-born right winger Brizuela, a member of Mexico's CONCACAF Gold Cup squad last year, shone laying on two of Pulido's goals with his quick runs and crosses.

The match was more even than the score suggests with South Korea failing to put away their chances and the Asian country might have been two goals up after near misses before Oribe struck.

Mexico face Nigeria in their next warm-up in Atlanta, Georgia on March 5. They are in Group A at the finals with hosts Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia.

South Korea, who beat Costa Rica 1-0 in Los Angeles on Saturday, conclude their U.S. tour playing against hosts the United States in California again this weekend. They face Belgium, Russia and Algeria in Group H in Brazil. (Additional reporting by Carlos Calvo in Mexico City; Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Justin Palmer)

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