Les Bleus on the brink after Mexican defeat

France 0 Mexico 2

New Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez enhanced his burgeoning reputation with the opening goal as Mexico took a significant step towards qualification from Group A and hastened France's early exit at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

Just nine minutes after coming off the bench the 22-year-old, who will officially move to Old Trafford from Chivas in a £7million deal next month, sprang the offside trap to race on to Rafael Marquez's pass, round goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and coolly slot home.

Veteran striker and cult hero Cuauhtemoc Blanco sealed victory with a 79th-minute penalty.

It was Mexico's first win over France at senior level and no less than they deserved after a performance full of vigour and attacking invention.

For the French, winners on home soil in 1998 and runners-up four years ago, the prospect of ignominious failure looms large - as it did at Euro 2008 when they failed to progress from their group.

Captain Patrice Evra may have shed a tear during the playing of La Marseillaise but there would have been many more Frenchman crying into their sauvignon blanc after another disappointing performance from Les Bleus.

The Manchester United defender had dismissed claims of disharmony within the camp at the pre-match press conference.

But everything about the team's demeanour spoke volumes: from the substitutes with what appeared to be tartan picnic rugs over their legs like a geriatrics' outing to coach Raymond Domenech's return to the dug-out a good minute before his players came out of the tunnel for the second half.

Most of the fluid, attacking football was played by Mexico, particularly before the interval.

Uruguay's win over South Africa last night to go top of the group had increased the pressure on both sides but they responded with some refreshingly open, if not decisive, play.

Early on Franck Ribery's 35-yard free-kick bounced in front of Oscar Perez but, unlike Algeria's Faouzi Chaouchi who blundered on this semi-artificial pitch on Sunday, the Mexico goalkeeper collected easily.

But whereas France were restricted to set-pieces, Mexico looked dangerous from open play.

Marquez's ball over the top saw three team-mates set off in pursuit; Arsenal's Carlos Vela reached it first but could not keep his 12-yard volley down.

Former West Ham striker Guillermo Franco was no closer when he all-too-easily turned William Gallas on the edge of the penalty area.

Mexico left-back Carlos Salcido twice went close, drilling wide of Lloris' left-hand post and then shooting straight at the goalkeeper.

Even the loss of Vela, being watched by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, to injury just after the half-hour did not interrupt the North Americans' fluency as substitute Pablo Barrera was straight into the action when Lloris punched Salcido's cross against him and was fortunate to see the ball bounce wide.

Giovani dos Santos flashed a shot wide before Jeremy Toulalan was booked in added time, ruling him out of France's final group match against South Africa.

The second half began with Andre Pierre Gignac coming on for Nicolas Anelka and Chelsea team-mate Florent Malouda, restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Yoann Gourcuff, having a shot tipped over by Perez.

But the introduction of Hernandez for Efrain Juarez soon after had an almost immediate impact.

His pace took him clear of the defence and his talent did the rest.

When Abidal brought down Barrera, Blanco side-footed home from the spot to spark wild Mexican celebrations.

A draw against Uruguay on Tuesday will put both sides through and send France home, irrespective of their result against the hosts.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?