Peralta Propels Mexico to the Men’s Soccer Final at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Oribe Peralta has proved he can bend it like Beckham at the 2012 Olympic Games

The 28-year-old Mexican footballer scored with a swerving long-range strike, then set up another goal with a spectacular back-heel on Tuesday to propel Mexico to a 3-1 victory over Japan, securing his country it’s first-ever spot in the Olympic men’s soccer final at the London Games.

Oribe Peralta

“We are guaranteed a silver, but we want a gold,” said Mexico’s coach Fernando Luis Tena . “Mexico is a football nation. They must be partying tonight.”

Mexico’s previous best showing at the Olympics was at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, when the team lost to Japan 2-0 in the bronze-medal match.

Japan forward Yuki Otsu opened the scoring at the 12-minute mark, sending a swerving shot into the roof of the net from outside the penalty area after several quick passes opened up a sliver of space.

Mexico Soccer

Marco Fabian headed in a corner for Mexico before halftime to equal the score.

Peralta then scored at the 65-minute mark after winning the ball off of Japanese defender Takahiro Ohgihara, who lingered with it too long after goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda had rolled it to him. Peralta ran with the ball briefly, then shot high and to the left of Gonda to give Mexico the lead.

“Beautiful,” was the way Peralta described his shot from outside the penalty area in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley.

Oribe Peralta

“I have never scored a goal that went so close to the top corner,” he said. “That goal represented everything we tried to do today because I fought for the ball, I got it back and I shot with all my strength.”

Deep into extra time, Javier Cortes cut into the box from the right wing, took the back-heel from Peralta, beat a defender, then sent the ball through the legs of Gonda to cap the victory.

“We had a good start, but then stopped moving,” said Japan’s coach Takashi Sekizuka. “Everyone is very disappointed. But we need to get over our emotion and prepare for the next game.”

Oribe Peralta

On Saturday, Mexico will play against Brazil, which beat South Korea 3-0 in the other semifinal.

Japan and South Korea will play for the bronze medal on Friday.