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In the most ironic twist in the history of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry, the Americans kept the Mexicans’ World Cup hopes alive by scoring two goals in added-on time to beat host Panama on the final night of the CONCACAF hexagonal. The USA’s dramatic 3-2 victory eliminated the Panamanians and sent Mexico into a home-and-home playoff with Oceania winner New Zealand next month.
With Mexico playing out the final moments of its 2-1 defeat at Costa Rica, midfielder Graham Zusi scored in the 92nd minute and substitute forward Aron Johannsson produced the winner a minute later to stun the crowd at Panama City’s Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Had Panama, which was attempting to qualify for its first-ever World Cup, held on for the win, it would have finished fourth and earned the meeting with New Zealand. Mexico would have finished tied with Panama on points (11-11), tied on goal difference (-2) but eliminated because Panama would have held a 10-7 edge in total goals scored.
The U.S., which qualified two games ago, finished the final round of the regional qualifiers in first place (7-2-1, 22 points), followed by fellow qualifiers Costa Rica (5-2-3, 18 points) and Honduras (4-3-3, 15 points), then Mexico (2-3-5, 11 points), Panama (1-4-5, 8 points) and Jamaica (0-5-5, 5 points). [October 15]
Comment: Turning on its own national team in hard times has long been a tradition in Mexico, so when it comes to the bitter running battle between El Tri and the United States, there’s really no reason for Americans to bother hurling the barbs and insults at Mexico–let the Mexicans do it themselves.
The most recent and perhaps best example came during the TV Azteca broadcast of the Costa Rica-Mexico match, which at the end went to a split screen so viewers could see the end of the Panama-U.S. game and perhaps say their prayers.
First listen to the delirious Mexican announcers, one even breaking into English at one point . . .
And now read a transcript of the call . . .
“GOOOOOOAAAAAL!!! GOOOOOOAAAAAL BY THE U.S.!!!
“We love you! We love you forever and ever! God bless America! The USA puts us in the playoffs!
“It is because of the USA that we are being placed in the playoff . . . because of them, not due to you! Not any of you in the green shirts. It was them–not you! They did it, not you!
“Remember this forever. Keep this clearly in mind for the rest of your lives. You do nothing for the shirt, you do not put any effort for the team, you have not placed us in the World Cup, you would not have kept us alive.
“It was the U.S., not you! Not you and your arrogance, not you and your infamy, not you and your punks.
“It is a failure . . . and undeserved. We had no arguments to earn the playoffs. The USA, with subs, and many subs as the visiting team, shows us once again what the USA is all about . . . how to play this game with dignity, how to approach the sport.
“Mexico is a horror, just terrible. A failure.
“GOOOOOOAAAAAL [as Johannsson scores to put the U.S. ahead]!!! GOOOOOOAAAAAL by the U.S.!!! We are in the playoffs! The U.S. did it so we can keep criticizing [Mexico]!
“So we can say that the U.S. has surpassed us. They are better than Mexico in soccer. They even have the luxury of playing their subs and keeping us alive. I hope our coach wears the pants and resigns. He has failed as a coach of the national team.”
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