Excuse me if I lose my journalistic objectivity when I say: ¡viva México! It’s not only that Aguirre’s men played a wonderful game tonight: air-tight defending, wonderful ball rotation and physical fitness that, as far as I’ve seen, is probably the best in the whole tournament. By the end of the match, even Jeremy Toulalan—by far the most committed of Domenech’s disappointing team—simply wanted to throw in the towel. Mexico didn’t lose pace or focus for one second. It’s a perfect epitaph for the match that Mexico’s fastest rising star–Javier Hernández, recently signed by Manchester United–and our oldest, most respected player (Cuauhtémoc Blanco, of whom I’ve written before) scored the goals. The Hernández story is particularly remarkable: after all, his grandfather, Tomás Balcázar, also scored in football’s most important competition. That happened in 1954 against—you guessed it—the French. So it was all quite close to a fairy-tale: a serious, disciplined performance, probably the best full match I’ve seen by Mexico in this or any World Cup.
Tonight, while I was driving home, I saw thousands of people heading towards the Angel de la Independencia, Mexico’s usual place for celebrating our very scarce sporting accomplishments. People were happy, waving the flag. For a moment, reality—and blessed football—gave this crime stricken, influenza recovering, politically discordant, financially threatened, drug addicted nation a break. Next comes Uruguay. For now, though, victory is a breath of fresh air. And believe me: when it comes to Mexico, I’m not just saying that.