- Javier Hernandez recorded three milestones against Korea Republic
- His team-mates showered the selfless striker in praise post-match
- Modest 'Chicharito' reflected on his achievements
By Martin Langer with Mexico
It was in the 66th minute of the clash with Korea Republic that Javier Hernandez once again showed his worth to his Mexico. Hirving Lozano burst away through the middle and expertly laid an inviting ball into the No14, who controlled it, cut inside, and slotted it past the goalkeeper. As soon as the ball hit the back of the net, Hernandez ran away to celebrate, a look of delight on his face at scoring a goal that not only sealed the three points, but also meant so much more.
With that strike, the man nicknamed 'Chicharito' wrote three new entries in the annals of Mexican football:
- He notched his 50th goal for El Tri.
- He went joint-top of Mexico's list of all-time leading World Cup marksmen alongside Luis Hernandez (four goals).
- He became the third Mexican to score in three World Cups along with Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Rafa Marquez.
Record-breaker and role model
“He’s got all these records, but that’s not all,” said team-mate Miguel Layun. “He’s also a great person, with an impressive mentality. He’s very important to the squad, both on and off the pitch. I’m sure he will continue to provide us with goals and bring us great joy.”
Layun was not the only compatriot to lavish praise on Hernandez. Lozano, whose assist led to the aforementioned goal, got in on the act. “He’s really a key player for us,” he said. “He brings us so much. He works as hard an anybody and sets a great example on and off the pitch. I’m so glad that this time I was able to set him up for a goal.”
Moreover, that goal was the perfect example of the qualities that the West Ham United forward brings to his national team. He used his speed to sprint into space on the counter-attack, his intelligence to wait for the pass and not stray offside, and his talent to beat his man in the box and calmly roll the ball past the onrushing Korean goalkeeper.
One more step
The goal also represented another important step for Mexico at Russia 2018, effectively securing the victory over a resolute Korea Republic.The man himself, named the Budweiser Man of the Match, reflected on his success in front of goal and his record after the match.
“I’m very happy, but also very grateful,” he said. “They’re not just individual achievements – they’re also the result of a team effort.”
Those magnanimous words echo the way in which Layun described Hernandez and his influence on the team. “He’s like a brother to me,” said the Sevilla player. "He’s someone who you can learn a lot from.
"We’re all very happy to see a person who works as hard as he does achieve his aims. He’s a great goalscorer, but offers a lot more than that. He’s an incredibly dynamic player. He makes four or five runs when others might just make one. And he’s always in the right place at the right time.”
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez was in the right place again in Rostov just as he was in South Africa back in 2010 when he set his country on their way to a famous World Cup win over France. Who knows where he will pop up again this summer in Russia, just when his team-mates need him?