Mex­ico wins 1st qual­i­fier in U.S. since 1972

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Mitch Stacy

COLUM­BUS, OHIO >> Rafa Mar­quez scored a tiebreak­ing goal on a header in the 89th minute, giv­ing Mex­ico a 2-1 win Fri­day night and its first vic­tory at the United States in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing since 1972.

Miguel Layun put Mex­ico ahead in the 20th minute in the opener of the fi­nal round of qual­i­fy­ing in North and Cen­tral Amer­ica and the Caribbean, but Bobby Wood tied the score in the 49th.

The U.S. dom­i­nated the sec­ond half before the 37-yearold Mar­quez, un­marked and drift­ing across the penalty area at the near post, got the back of his head on Layun’s cor­ner kick. The Mex­i­can cap­tain lifted the ball over goal­keeper Brad Guzan for his 17th in­ter­na­tional goal.

The U.S. had beaten Mex­ico four straight times by 2-0 scores in home qual­i­fiers — all at Colum­bus — and the Amer­i­cans had been 30-0-2 at home in qual­i­fy­ing since a 3-2 loss to Hon­duras at Washington’s RFK Sta­dium in Septem­ber 2001.

Mex­ico’s pre­vi­ous win at the U.S. in qual­i­fy­ing was also by a 2-1 score, at Los An­ge­les.

“I think we de­served this match,” Layun said. “We were fo­cused.”

Guzan had lost the U.S. goal­keeper job to Tim Howard, who started at the last two World Cups. But Howard in­jured his right leg on a goal kick and was re­placed in the 40th minute.

The Amer­i­cans play Tues­day at Costa Rica, where is has never won in qual­i­fy­ing, in the sec­ond of its 10 games in the round. Mex­ico hosts Panama.

With the U.S. strug­gling early in a 3-5-2 for­ma­tion, Mex­ico could have led 3-0. Howard tipped Je­sus Corona’s 10th-minute shot off a post and Car­los Vela’s 25thminute header hit a cross­bar.

Af­ter switch­ing to a more fa­mil­iar 4-4-2 for­ma­tion in the 27th minute, the Amer­i­cans be­gan to find their rhythm, and Wood scored off a pass from Jozy Alti­dore.

It was 44 de­grees at game time, half the 90-de­gree tem­per­a­ture for the 2013 match in Colum­bus, when the U.S. clinched its sev­enth straight World Cup berth.

A pro-Amer­i­can crowd of 24,650 chanted “Dos a cero!” at the start, but Mex­i­can sup­port­ers yelled “Dos a uno!” as they left.

Mex­ico went ahead af­ter Michael Bradley and Gio­vani dos San­tos bat­tled for the ball 30 yards out. The ball skipped to Layun, who took a touch, and his right-footed shot de­flected off Timmy Chan­dler and in to Howard’s left for his fourth in­ter­na­tional goal in 46 ap­pear­ances,

Wood tied the score af­ter John Brooks forced a turnover. Jozy Alti­dore turned his de­fender and passed to Wood, who took two touches as he split de­fend­ers. His 8-yard, left-footed shot de­flected off a leg of Layun for his eighth goal in 28 in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ances. Wood also scored against Mex­ico last fall dur­ing an ex­tra-time loss in the play­off for a berth in the 2017 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup.


United States’ Timmy Chan­dler, right, heads the ball away from Mex­ico’s Gio­vani Dos San­tos dur­ing the first half of a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing soc­cer match Fri­day in Colum­bus, Ohio.

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