By Michael Place
RECIFE, Brazil, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Mexico scored three goals in 10 electrifying second-half minutes to advance to the World Cup knockout phase with a 3-1 victory over Croatia on Monday.
The Group A clash looked to be petering towards a 0-0 draw before former Barcelona defender Rafael Marques' 72nd minute header sparked his team to life.
Bayer Leverkusen defender Andres Guardado then rifled in a second before Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez made it 3-0 with eight minutes left.
Croatia scored a consolation goal when Wolfsburg midfielder Ivan Perisic found the net after an Ivan Rakitic backheel.
The result at Pernambuco Arena clinched second spot in Group A for Mexico, who will meet the Netherlands in Fortaleza in the round of 16.
Croatia will head home with plenty to contemplate after conceding six goals in two of their three Group matches.
Before the game, Mexico coach Miguel Herrera vowed his team would attempt to win despite the fact a draw would suffice to progress to the knockout phase.
But it was Croatia who seized the initiative early.
Ivan Perisic twice missed the target in the first 15 minutes as Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Danijel Pranjic took control in midfield.
Mexico soon gathered their composure and were unlucky not to take the lead when Hector Herrera's shot cannoned against the bar.
A minute later Oribe Peralta was played in by Paul Aguilar on the right but the Santos Laguna striker slipped with only the keeper to beat.
Croatia began the second half positively but it was not long before Mexico asserted themselves.
Herrera's team had a penalty appeal waved away by the referee after Croatia captain Darijo Srna appeared to handle Guardado's long-range attempt.
Shortly after, Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa saved a Paul Aguilar shot with his feet.
Then came the goal avalanche.
Marques began the rout with a downward header that Pletikosa might have nightmares about after the ball appeared to slip under his gloves.
Guardado's strike from a Peralta cross followed neat build-up play by Hernandez. The Manchester United forward, a second-half substitute for Giovani dos Santos, was rewarded for his efforts by scoring his team's third.
Marques was involved again, flicking on a cross with his head for Hernandez to nod in at the far post.
Croatia were reduced to 10 men when Ante Rebic was shown a straight red card for sinking his studs into Carlos Pena's leg.
But it mattered little. The Mexican fiesta in Recife had already begun.