Mexico's players celebrate a goal against Guyana during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at Azteca stadium in Mexico City June 8, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Mexico is two for two in the 2014 World Cup Qualification games after defeating El Salvador 2-1 on Tuesday.
As with their past win over Guyana, Mexico came up short of expectations. Sure, there was no expectation of a five or six goal blowout against FIFA's 55th ranked El Salvador as there was with the lowly Guyana, but the game was far closer than anticipated. Regardless, the result was the same and Mexico now stands at the top of its group with six points.
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The game, which was played at the Estadio Cuscatlan in el Salvador, was a rather evenly matched affair early on as the Mexicans seemed overwhelmed by the intense atmosphere of the home fans. The last time the Mexicans came to El Salvador during the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, the team lost 2-1 to the Salvadorians.
After waves and waves of Salvadorian offense early on, the Mexicans finally broke through with a goal from Jesus Zavala in the 60th minute to give Mexico a 1-0 lead. However, the hosts were not ready to give up and answered just five minutes later on a set-piece play. Alfredo Pacheco, a former defender for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, blasted a shot on a free kick around the Mexican wall of defenders and past Mexican goalkeeper Jesus Corona. Corona was off his line, making the shot easy to execute.
The Estadio Cuscatlan fans went into an uproar and it seemed that the home team would recover the momentum from earlier in the match. But the Mexicans, the powerhouse of the CONCACAF, responded like champions and with just eight minutes to play in regulation scored the game winner. Hector Moreno provided the relief when he headed a shot at Salvadorian goalkeeper Benji Villalobos off a cross. Villalobos swatted the ball away for a save, but the ball rebounded off of Moreno's head a second time into the back of the net.
The victory gave Mexico six points and propelled "el Tri" to the top of Group B which also includes, Costa Rica (4 points) and Guyana (o points). El Salvador, who tied Costa Rica in the first match of play, sits in third with just 1 point. The top two teams in the group will enter a six team format with the top three teams competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. As of Wednesday, Group A is led by the US and Jamaica (4 points apiece), while Group C is has Panama (6 points) and Canada (4 points) at the top.