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   June 9, 2002 | 1400 IST



Battle of Wits

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Mexico rally to down Ecuador

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Karen Iley

Mexico came from a goal down to win their all-Latin American World Cup group G clash with Ecuador 2-1 on Sunday, putting themselves on the brink of the second round for the third straight time.

Ecuador took an early lead with their first ever World Cup finals goal, but it was Mexico who dominated the match on the way to their first victory over their south American opponents in 12 finals appearances and top spot in group G.

After beating Croatia in their opening match, Mexico are only the third team so far to win their first two matches at the tournament, but the group is still wide open and their fate will only be decided after their final game against favourites Italy.

Mexico's Gerardo Torrado (L) celebrates his goal with team mate Joahan Rodriguez In a match marred by a blustery wind which whipped the ball in all directions, Ecuador stole an early lead when towering striker Agustin Delgado headed in a cross from Ulises De la Cruz.

But that was only shot on target in the first half from a team who, as in their opening 2-0 defeat by Italy, appeared over-awed.

Mexico, stunned into action from being a goal behind, piled on the pressure with Gerardo Torrado, Johan Rodriguez and Jesus Arellano feeding plenty of balls through to forwards Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Jared Borgetti.

Their tidy and organised moves paid dividends in the 28th minute when a Ramon Morales cross found Borgetti who scored with a well-crafted left-foot volley at the near post.

Torrado, Mexico's shaven-headed defensive midfielder, played a crucial role, linking up with Blanco and Rodriguez for nifty passes which were a constant menace to Ecuador's defence.

In the 57th minute, Torrado took a pass from Rodriguez to fire a left-foot shot past Ecuador goalkeeper Jose Cevallos and put Mexico 2-1 ahead.

Delgado, Ecuador's pacy striker, showed he was capable of nipping through the Mexican midfield, but he never managed to break through the solid Mexican defence.

After Mexico's second goal, Ecuador's Colombian coach Hernan Dario Gomez brought on veteran Alex Aguinaga in a bid to create more chances and they nearly grabbed an equaliser in the dying minutes when Marlon Ayovi fired a shot inches wide of the post.

The other two teams to win their first two matches at the tournament so far are Spain and Brazil.

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