The Mexico vs Costa Rica Hexagonal qualifying match ended in a disastrous 1-2 loss for El Tri, however, the USMNT scored twice in the last minutes of its match against Panama, thus securing Mexico a spot in the intercontinental playoff against New Zealand. Both matches were being played simultaneously, and as both games were nearing its end, it appeared as though Mexico would be knocked out of the World Cup. El Tri fans throughout the world can thank the USA for its epic finale in Panama City.
Mexico started the game against Costa Rica with the same formation it used against Panama at the Azteca, a 4-2-2-2. The only difference being Chaco Gimenez starting in place of Dos Santos on the right flank. Costa Rica setup a defensive minded formation, yet it was not afraid to throw men forward when it had possession of the ball. This allowed for a free-flowing match with plenty of scoring opportunities.
In the 18th minute, Chicharito missed what was likely the easiest opportunity of his life. After receiving a pass inside the box from Oribe Peralta, Chicharito was somehow unable to push in the empty netter, instead fumbling it towards Peralta, forcing an offside. Costa Rica responded with a counterattack in the 26th minute, with Brian Ruiz scoring the goal, giving Costa Rica the 1-0 lead.
Mexico responded right away though, scoring a goal in the 29th minute. Once again, Chicharito missed an easy goal, one on one against the goalkeeper, Chicharito was stopped by the keeper. Fortunately, Peralta received the deflection and scored in the tying 1-1 goal. Chicharito went on to have one more clear scoring opportunity later in the first half off a magnificent cross, only to miss it wide. The first half would end 1-1.
Knowing that the draw would secure them the intercontinental playoff, El Tri played the second half with no heart, never looking for the win. That plan backfired when Costa Rica scored in the 64th minute via a header from Saborio. This put the match at 2-1 in favor of the Ticos, which meant that if Panama were to defeat the USA, Mexico would be eliminated.
The worst fears for Mexican fans came alive when Panama scored in the 83rd minute, giving the Canaleros the 2-1 momentary victory, and eliminating Mexico. Nonetheless, the USMNT saved Mexico in amazing fashion, scoring in the 92nd and 93rd minutes of the match, defeating Panama 3-2, and saving Mexico in the process.
For their part, Mexico played an awful game and clearly deserved to lose. After falling 2-1, El Tri never generated any scoring opportunities, and it was in fact Costa Rica who came closer to scoring again.
Thanks to its northern neighbors, Mexico is still alive, and will play New Zealand in November at home and away for a spot in the Brazil World Cup. Speaking sincerely as an El Tri fan though, this squad we saw play today does not deserve to be in the World Cup.