Posted on July 29, 2012
COVENTRY, England — After a rather average game in Mexico’s Olympic opener, Giovani dos Santos came on as a substitute again at the start of the second half of Sunday’s encounter with Gabon.
The international lived up to his reputation and then some, striking twice to power El Tri to a 2-0 Group B win at the City of Coventry Stadium.
The Mexicans, the top seeded country in the group, will play Switzerland (0-0-1, one) in Cardiff, Wales for a chance to reach the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Gabon (0-1-1, one) will play South Korea (0-0-1, one) as part of a doubleheader the same night.
“We are a strong team,” dos Santos said. “We are working hard because we want to be champions.”
Dos Santos replaced Miguel Ponce at the start of the second half. It was the second consecutive game that dos Santos came off the bench.
“I want to play but we are a team,” he said. “Every player just wants to play well.”
He scored in the 63rd minute and added a penalty kick two minutes into injury time past goalkeeper Didier Ovono to ice the game. Oribe Peralta, who was denied on Ovono’s finger tip save in the 51st minute, set up dos Santos’ first goal 12 minutes later. He created space for dos Santos, who curled a shot past Ovono.
“Dos Santos is a luxury to have on the bench,” Mexico coach Luis Fernando Tena said. “He has proven he’s getting better footballistically. He’s done well coming from the bench. He’s integrated well. He’s working morning and afternoon with the physician and the physical coaches.
“If he keeps improving, he will get a chance. He needs to find a rhythm to improve. It would be better to have that rhythm at club level. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get many minutes at Tottenham. Playing more at club level would make him better for Mexico.”
Peralta had a role in dos Santos’ second goal as Gabon’s Henry Ndong received a second yellow card for fouling the Mexican in the penalty area before dos Santos converted.
“I am happy to score two goals,” dos Santos said. “The most important thing is we won the game.”
As it turns out, those were rare goals on English soil for dos Santos, who is under contract with Tottenham, but rarely plays for the English Premier League side.
Still, dos Santos said that he was enjoying the moment.
“It’s very special,” he said. “With Tottenham being here in the UK, it’s very special for me.”
Photo: Giovani dos Santos struck for a brace for Mexico in its win over Gabon. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Mexico, North America, Olympic Qualifying
Tags: dos santos, El Tri, English Premier League, Giovani dos Santos, Oribe Peralta, Tottenham