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Mexico Tops Belize in front of 50,137 at Reliant Stadium

In front of 50,137 soccer fans at Reliant Stadium, Mexico defeated upset hopeful Belize 2-0 in a second-round World Cup qualifying match on Sunday.

Nineteen-year-old Mexican forward Carlos Vela scored the go-ahead goal at the 67-minute mark, tapping in a rebound near the right post after Luis Perez’s shot off a set piece was deflected by Belizean goalkeeper Shane Orio. Perez was credited with the assist. Mexico’s Jared Borgetti scored on a penalty kick in the 90th minute for the final margin.

Belize was technically the home team in this first of two matchups with Mexico because the tiny Central American nation, population 301,270, does not have a stadium which meets FIFA standards. But a largely green-and-white-clad crowd went into a frenzy with both goals from the Mexican squad.

It was a dominant performance for El Tri, which outshot Belize 21-3 in the match and had 17 corner kicks to Belize’s two. Despite failing to score in the first half, Mexico forced Orio into making four saves as they outshot Belize 12 to one in the first 45 minutes. The Mexican squad spent almost the entirety of the first half deep in Belize territory, with the outmatched Belizeans often keeping eight players in the box to counter the Mexican attack.

In spite of the loss, the match marked a significant step forward for Belize in the nation’s first-ever appearance in the second round of World Cup qualifying. The fledgling team is comprised mostly of amateur players and coached by Ian Mork, a native of Wichita, Kan., who earlier this year was coaching youth soccer in Sonoma, Calif.

Mexico and Belize will face off next in Monterrey, Mexico, on June 21.

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