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Mexico stunned while US stumbles

By Reuters in Mexico City | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-08 07:34

Mexico suffered only its second ever qualifying defeat in Azteca Stadium with a 2-1 loss to Honduras on Friday that increases the pressure on coach Jose Manuel de la Torre and leaves 'El Tri' with plenty of work to do to qualify for Brazil.

Costa Rica, which tops the CONCACAF region standings, took a step towards booking its place at next year's finals with an impressive 3-1 win over the United States, while Panama was held to a scoreless draw at home to Jamaica in the other game.

After seven rounds of matches, Costa Rica leads the way at 14 points with the US at 13 and Honduras at 10, while Mexico sits in fourth place, outside the automatic qualification slots, at eight points in the final stage group.

Panama is at seven while Jamaica is at the bottom of the six-team standings at three points.

Mexico's biggest worry going into Friday's game was a lack of firepower at home after its three previous qualifiers at Azteca all ended in goalless draws.

Seeking to address the issue, De la Torre left Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez on the bench and started with Oribe Peralto in an attacking role, and the move paid instant dividends.

Giovani dos Santos burst down the left flank and picked out Peralto with a low cross, which the striker calmly slotted home to end Mexico's home goal drought after just six minutes.

Mexico seemed in control for much of the contest, but the introduction of Jerry Bengtson to the Honduran attack changed the game.

Carlos Costly's powerful drive was parried out by Jose Corona and Bengtson reacted quickly to tap in the loose ball for a 64th-minute equalizer.

Two minutes later, Costly scored the winner when he bustled past Diego Reyes before unleashing a superb shot into the far corner.

Mexico travels to Columbus, Ohio, to face the US on Tuesday, with both teams feeling the pressure to get back to winning ways quickly.

(China Daily 09/08/2013 page7)

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