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(CNN) — El Tri had threatened to usurp the host nation at the top of the table after putting Croatia to the sword in Recife.
After a goalless first half, Rafael Marquez, the first man to captain his country at four World Cups, headed Mexico in front with 18 minutes remaining.
Andres Guardado rounded off a slick counter attack soon after to double his side's advantage before Manchester United star Javier Hernandez added a third.
It was a just reward for Mexico, which hit the crossbar in the first half and was denied what appeared to be a blatant penalty with the game still goalless.
Croatia, which could have qualified with a victory, pulled a goal back through Ivan Perisic but was then reduced to 10 men when Ante Rebic was sent off.
Mexico will now face a Dutch side which won all three of its group games and reached the final in South Africa four years ago.
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