The United striker was sent into the fray on 61 minutes with scores locked at 0-0. Twenty minutes later, Mexico were 3-0 up and cruising into the knockout rounds.
Before kick-off, Mexico knew a draw or better against Croatia would send them through but Miguel Herrera’s men weren’t prepared to settle for a point in Recife, despite a first half that promised little in the way of goalmouth action.
Indeed, the only real incident of note in the first 45 minutes was a fierce Hector Herrera shot that cannoned off the Croatian woodwork.
The game sparked into life after Hernandez’s introduction just after the hour mark. He had a penalty appeal turned down almost immediately before winning the corner that led to Mexico’s first goal, headed in by captain Rafael Marquez.
Chicharito was also involved in the build-up to Mexico’s second three minutes later, spraying the ball wide before Andres Guardado stroked home Oribe Peralta's cross with a calm side-footed finish.
Hernandez’s moment came with just eight minutes to play, nodding in a flick-on at the back post from another corner.