Hernandez bounces back

  • Last Updated: June 24 2014, 12:20 BST

A goal from Javier Hernandez has not only helped fire Mexico into the round of 16 at the World Cup but also lifted the spirits of a player who struggled at Manchester United in the 2013-14 season.

Javier Hernandez: Came off the bench to score for Mexico
Javier Hernandez: Came off the bench to score for Mexico

Hernandez had one of three strikes in a 10-minute second-half spell for El Tri as they beat Croatia, 3-1, to finish second in Group A behind hosts Brazil.

Coming off a difficult year in the Premier League when he had just a handful of starts for United, the 25-year-old striker came on as a substitute for the third time in as many World Cup games on Monday night in Recife.

"This is a goal that gives me a lot of confidence," he said to Mexican newpspaper Record. "But I'm never going to feel pressured by anything.

"I don't live off goals.

"I live off enjoying myself, off the confidence I have in myself and something that many people, throughout this year, have not had in me.

"I feel I'm on the right path and I want to continue like this."

Hernandez is hoping he can be a valuable contributor for the Mexicans for the rest of their time in Brazil and it does not matter if he is a substitute or starter.

"I had three very good years with the national team and then one year in which I did not play for my club and I ended up on the bench," he said. "One must focus on the present and take it one game at a time."

The next World Cup opponents for Mexico are Holland, who won against Spain, Australia and Chile in their first three games.

"We are going to enjoy this win, it was a huge step forward," Hernandez said.

He stressed the need for Mexico's players to keep their feet on the ground.

"We are not going to wake up lifting the World Cup nor are we going to feel like we did in the qualifying round, feeling we might be ridiculed in this competition," he said.

"We are very humble and respectful. We will think of Holland next."

A date with the Dutch is going to afford Hernandez the opportunity to see his Manchester United teammate, Robin van Persie.

Mexico take on Group B winners Holland on Sunday in Fortaleza.

Van Persie, who is the Oranje captain, missed his team's 2-0 triumph over Chile on Monday through suspension but will return against Mexico.

"It will be a joy," Hernandez said. "He is a team-mate with whom I've experienced two important years.

"I've learned a lot from him, we won a title and it will be very nice to see him again."

Mexico captain Rafael Marquez, meanwhile, is celebrating joining Cuauhtemoc Blanco as the only two Mexican players to have scored in three different World Cups.

Marquez, who was voted Man of The Match after his performance against Croatia, is playing his fourth World Cup.

He scored his team's opener against Croatia.

"Mexico can play against any rival," the 35-year-old defensive midfielder said. "I am playing as though this was my first World Cup.

"I want to thank our fans for their unconditional support.

"It's thanks to them that we are giving our soul on the pitch.

"We are taking it one step at at time."

Croatia coach Niko Kovac said after his team's defeat that he wants to remain in charge despite being eliminated from the competition after just three games in Brazil.

"I see no reason why I shouldn't," he said. "Our aim was to qualify for the World Cup.

"We achieved that and it was a success.

"This was a very difficult group but we have a team with a lot of potential."

Croatia's lone win was a 4-1 triumph over Cameroon.