In the final Confederations Cup match for both sides, it was Javier Hernandez's (Chicharito) brace that led Mexico in their 2-1 defeat of Shinji Kagawa's Japan. In the opening half, the Blue Samurai were the better side and as is typical, the Manchester United playmaker had some brilliant touches -- it's almost as if Kagawa has magical wands on his feet that are cushioned by pillows. Japan, though, could not take advantage of being the superior side as the scoreline was 0-0 at half-time.
In the second-half, Mexico were immensely improved. In fact, that was probably one of the better halves of football that they've played in 2013 and that will undoubtedly be encouraging for them ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers in September. In the first-half, as it has been for much of Mexico's recent matches, they seemed to lack a plan -- they didn't really press, they didn't really have a low block, they didn't really show any clear plan when they had the ball, and they were simply outclassed by Japan. In the second-half, though, El Tri played at a higher tempo and they were both more urgent and incisive in attack.
The pattern of Chicharito's play wasn't that different from his first two matches in the Confederations Cup (Chicharito match reviews: vs Italy | vs Brazil) -- he showed variety in his movement as a No.9 by dropping deep when needed to bring others into attack*, he moved wide to escape** the close attentions of the opposition's central-defenders, while he also looked to make dangerous runs into the channels on Mexico's mini-breaks forward.
* He impressively won five fouls and many of those were the result of him being strong in holding the ball up while he waited for teammates to join him in attack.
** He had a nice moment in the 51st minute when he drifted out wide to the left touchline to receive the ball. From here, he drove towards goal before laying off a pass just outside the box. This move eventually led to a Mexico corner.
Chicharito's first goal was the sort United supporters have seen plenty of times: Mexico left-winger Andres Guardado was near the left touchline and from there, he whipped in an in-swinging cross that the United striker met with his head prior to driving it home. Chicharito made one of his trademark feint steps one direction before darting in a slightly different one as his marker lost him.
On his second goal, Chicharito was positioned near Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima prior to a Mexico corner. When the ball was sent in, it was flicked on ahead of the near-post and Chicharito brilliantly anticipated it, slipped his marker, and then cooly headed the ball in for another goal -- impressively his 35th goal for Mexico in 53 appearances. The only real blemish on Chicharito's afternoon was the double-miss that he had when he took a penalty in added-time (which he won himself): his effort from the spot was poor and he followed that up by sending the rebounded attempt off the crossbar. Overall though, it was an impressive performance from the United striker and a 8.5/10 rating is probably fair.
Kagawa had a relatively quiet game, at least in comparison to his recent sensational performance against Italy (Kagawa match reviews: vs Brazil | vs Italy). Once again, he was deployed as an interiore from the left-side of Japan's 4-2-3-1. When Japan won the ball, the United playmaker often dropped deep and drifted into central positions. When he received, he looked to turn so that he drive forward and ignite attacks. He wasn't as influential as he was versus Italy, but he still formed a nice partnership with Yuto Nagatomo on the left-side as the left-back continually did well to get forward while providing overlapping runs.
Late in the match, when Japan trailed Mexico 0-2, Kagawa had the ball near the top of the box in a left-central position. From here, he looped in a cross to the far-post for Yasuhito Endo before the midfielder swept a pass across goal for Shinji Okazaki's easy finish. Overall, it was a decent match for Kagawa and he probably deserves a match rating in the region of a 6.5/10.