PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Carlos Rodríguez scored a second-half goal, defender Damil Dankerlui had an own goal on Thursday night and a Mexican team with an alternate lineup struggled, but beat Suriname 2-0 to seize the Group lead A of the League of Nations.
Rodríguez converted with an indirect kick down the left flank at minute 63 and Dankerlui made his mistake at minute 82 and that was enough for the Mexican team, now led by Argentine Diego Cocca, who took over from his compatriot Gerardo Martino.
Mexico now has seven points with which it displaced Jamaica (5) from the top spot in the sector and relegated Suriname to the bottom with just one point.
Mexico receives Jamaica next Sunday at the Azteca stadium looking to seal their ticket to the next round.
Only the best country from each of the four groups advances to the semifinals to be played in Las Vegas on June 15. The final will be three days later, at the same venue.
For his debut, Cocca chose to leave 12 players in his country who participated in the World Cup in Qatar, where the Mexicans signed their worst performance since Argentina 1978 by being left out in the group stage.
Players like Guillermo Ochoa, Héctor Moreno, Edson Álvarez, Hirving Lozano and Raúl Jiménez, among others, did not travel to Suriname and are shaping up to be the starters for next Sunday.
Despite the victory, Cocca’s debut was not ideal because the Caribbean team put him in trouble and he was better in the first half.
Suriname had five shots on target in the first half, including a shot from Roscello Vlijter that was parried with much trouble by Acevedo in the 19th minute.
Mexico had its best approach with a shot from Erick Sánchez that was slightly deflected at 33.
In the plugin, Sánchez hit a header that went over the arc, but then the game went downhill.
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The Mexicans took the lead when Rodríguez took a free kick on the left to Johan Vázquez, who fanned the ball, but confused goalkeeper Joey Roggeveen, who couldn’t deflect the attempt and the ball hit the net.
Four minutes later, Mexico were able to extend their lead when Uriel Antuna was brought down inside the box for a penalty that Santiago Giménez took with great power, but over the home goal.
Mexico extended their advantage when Antuna sent a cross from the right and Dankerlui tried to reject, but put the ball into his goal.