|Stadium||Arena das Dunas|
Francisco Javier Rodríguez
José Juan Vázquez
Giovani dos Santos
This was the second game of the World Cup and for the second game all the talk after the final whistle was about the referees. The main difference between this game and the opener between Croatia and Brazil less than 24 hours before, however, was that the decisions, in the end, did not influence the result.
The victory carried Mexico into second place in Group A, level on points with Brazil, and also, probably, spared Fifa's blushes. Peralta's goal came just after the hour mark, capping an impressive performance from a Mexican side that dominated from the start.
The decisive move started out wide before the ball was moved inside. After a smart move, Giovani Dos Santos found himself inside the area and unleashed a shot which the Cameroon goalkeeper, Charles Itandje, could only parry. Peralta was lurking for the rebound and a struggling Cameroon defence could not recover in time to keep his shot out.
Peralta was not short of ambition after scoring the winner. He said: "I want to score as many goals as possible, to take advantage of every opportunity that I get because I want to be a world champion."
It was no more than Mexico deserved as they had controlled the game throughout. And twice they were denied by the Colombian officials, both times for offside, both times erroneously. Dos Santos was at the heart of both those "goals", first slamming a fine volley past Itandje after only 11 minutes, only to see the assistant rule that he had been offside when, in fact, he had been clearly onside. Then the Villarreal striker had the ball in the net again on the half-hour mark from Miguel Layún's corner only to collapse in frustration when the assistant again waved his flag. The first decision was poor, the second was dreadful – and it got worse the more times you watched it. Replays showed that not only had Dos Santos been onside, but Cameroon's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had flicked the ball on to set up the chance.
The Mexico coach, Miguel Herrera, looked incredulous on the touchline but he will have been pleased by the energy, the organisation and the quality that allowed El Tri to collect three critical points and place the side in a good position before a difficult second match, against Brazil in Fortaleza on Tuesday.
Herrera said: "We could have scored more, but unfortunately we're not used to these [rainy] conditions.
"Frankly, the refereeing took away two clear goals, but at the end of the day you've got to work for it, and we get to the next match with three points and very high spirits."
Cameroon, largely outplayed in the first half, did spurn a gilt-edged chance of their own. Benoît Assou-Ekotto raced round the Mexican backline in the 22nd minute to deliver a superb ball into Samuel Eto'o, only to see the striker volley his shot agonisingly wide of Guillermo Ochoa's near post. Assou-Ekotto also saw a free-kick deflected narrowly wide in the second half, but it was largely a toothless performance from the African side.
Volker Finke's team attempted to snatch a point very late on when they threw Pierre Webo on for Alex Song, and they did create some late chances. Benjamin Moukandjo sent in a tasty cross that forced Francisco Rodríguez to clear; then he delivered a header in stoppage that Ochoa saved well.
Cameroon had struggled to create chances throughout in the pouring rain, Eto'o staying fairly isolated up front while Finke, surprisingly kept Lorient's in-form striker Vincent Aboubakar on the substitutes' bench.
Herrera, meanwhile, did make a substitution with the Manchester United striker Javier Hernández replacing the goalscorer Peralta with 16 minutes remaining. Soon afterwards Mexico, who endured a poor qualifying tournament and nearly missed out on the tournament, nearly won a penalty but the rash challenge of Dany Nounkeu on Marco Fabián was just outside the area. The resulting free-kick, from Dos Santos, came to nothing.
Mexico displayed some nerves towards the end but the three central defenders, Rafael Márquez, Héctor Moreno and Layún, stood firm. The loss also leaves Cameroon needing a victory over group rival Croatia before closing first-round play against Brazil.
Finke, said: "We have five days to recover. We will analyse this together because the match against Croatia is very important if we want to stay alive."
On this evidence Cameroon will struggle to go through while the final group game between Mexico and Croatia on 23 June may well decide who progresses with the favourites, Brazil.