After sleepwalking through the first 45 minutes, El Tri came charging out of the locker room with a sense of purpose.
It took Mexico just 43 seconds to get on the scoreboard and Jaime Lozano’s men overran Haiti for a 3-1 victory in a Gold Cup group stage game that clinched a spot in the knockout round for El Tri.
Henry Martín made up for a first-half blunder (he flubbed a point-blank shot) heading home an Uriel Antuna cross to give Mexico a 1-0 lead less than a minute after the restart.
An own-goal by Ricardo Adé (56’) and a Santiago Giménez finish in minute 83 (off another Antuna assist) sandwiched around a Danley Jean Jacques header off a corner kick accounted for the rest of the scoring.
Bad habits are hard to break
After an impressive performance in the Gold Cup opener (a 4-0 win over Honduras), El Tri seemed to lapse back into the poor form on display too often under Gerardo Martino and Diego Cocca.
Despite 69% possession in the first half, the formation appeared static. Poor passing and indecision with the ball plagued Mexico, but positional immobility made for a stagnant attack.
The sterile offensive showing was all too reminiscent of recent iterations of El Tri. The tricolor fired 19 first-half shots but only four reached the goalie.
That all changed in the second half, though Mexico was still rather inefficient. The team was flowing forward more freely, but bonehead plays here and there provided Haiti with chances to get back in the match.
In minute 77, Le Rouge et Bleu cut the lead in half and moments later, a poor pass by sub Israel Reyes and a lackadaisical effort by Luis Romo led to a Haiti rush into the box. Fortunately, Edson Alvarado reacted quickly and snuffed out the opportunity.
Five minutes later, Giménez knocked home the clincher and El Tri fans exhaled.
Mexico concludes group play on Sunday against Qatar needing only a draw to clinch first place in Group B.
El Tri somehow climbs in FIFA rankings
The new FIFA World Rankings were released Thursday and Mexico finds itself in 14th place. This despite an unimpressive 3-2-1 record since the previous rankings, including an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Team USA in an official match.
The U.S. is tops among Concacaf teams at No. 11, El Tri is next, followed by Costa Rica (No. 42) and Canada (No. 45).