World Cup Standout
Hernandez was at his best in 1998, when France hosted the World Cup and the Mexicans, who had never before won a World Cup game in Europe, advanced past the opening round. Mexico became a media darling, living on the edge in its tournament games. There was even turmoil before the quadrennial event began. Mexico fired Coach Bora Milutinovic after the qualifying games and replaced him with Manuel Lapuente, who had won four national titles with Necaxa and Puebla. (Milutinovic had coached the United States to the round of 16 in the previous World Cup, which the U.S. hosted). In addition, Hermosillo, who had scored 11 goals during qualifying, was omitted from the squad.
Playing at the striker position, Hernandez, who scored only one goal throughout the qualifying, connected twice in the last 15 minutes of regulation as Mexico came from behind to beat South Korea 3-1 in its first game, at Lyon. The Koreans had to play one man short the final 60 minutes.
Mexico looked beaten in the following game, down 2-0 to Belgium and short a man with about 35 minutes remaining, but rebounded for a 2-2 draw at Bordeaux. Thanks to Hernandez, Mexico earned another 2-2 draw in its next game, against the Netherlands at Saint-Etienne. Hernandez, five minutes into injury time (added to the end of soccer games), scored against Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Saar off a goalmouth scramble.
Having proven its comeback ability in its opening games, Mexico faced a different challenge against the Germans. Hernandez gave his country a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute, scoring against keeper Andreas Koepke, but Mexico found that protecting a lead was tougher than coming back. Veterans Jurgen Klinsmann and Oliver Bierhoff connected late in the game, Bierhoff with less than four minutes left in regulation, and the Germans ended Mexico's run.
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