Mexico fans flocked to Houston’s NRG Stadium hopeful of witnessing a pair of coronations on Monday: Mexico crowned winners of Group C in Copa America Centenario and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez becoming Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Mexico did take the group thanks to the 1-1 draw, but it was Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona getting the late equaliser for El Tri over tournament surprises Venezuela.
As has often been the case for Mexico, Hernandez, who had only come off the bench shortly before, had a role in a teammate’s goal by helping to create space through his own positioning and the sheer threat of his abilities. With Hernandez several metres away at the edge of the penalty area, Corona dribbled skillfully through a Venezuela defence which had not conceded a goal up to that point in the tournament. 'Tecatito' eliminated the need for his wing man by finishing his run all on his own.
Next trip: Germany
Not that the Bayer 04 Leverkusen forward’s barren night in front of goal frustrated his fans.
“Chicharito must break the record,” says Faustino Martinez before the match, referring to the former Manchester United FC striker's attempt to catch Jared Borgetti, who - with 46 international goals - has one more strike than his pursuer. “Even if it doesn’t happen today, he’s only 28. He has more than enough time and, of course, the quality to do it. He’s going to break the record.”
Because his wife had to work, Martinez endured a lengthy bus ride alone to get from Monterrey, Mexico, to Houston in order to attend the match. The bus ride and match ticket cost the Chicharito fan about $265 and ten hours in transit, though he had no second thoughts about the expense involved and is already considering his next trip to see his idol.
“My goal now will be to go watch him play in Germany,” says Martinez. “I wish to just see him. I went by the team hotel today, but there was no access for us, the fans. I hope maybe in Germany it will be easier to see him and tell him how much I admire him. Maybe in a couple of months, I can go over there.”