Thu, Mar 28, 2013 - Page 18 News List

World Cup: US hang on for a point in Mexico, Panama top table

AFP, MEXICO CITY

Carlos Costly of Honduras, right, controls the ball under pressure from Panama’s Leonel Parrish, left, and Carlos Rodriguez in their World Cup qualifier at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

The US survived a second-half onslaught by Mexico to hang on for a 0-0 draw at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Tuesday, picking up a crucial qualification point on the road to next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

The US were on the back foot for much of the second 45 minutes, but weathered the storm thanks to goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who made a string of impressive saves.

“It was a bit hectic and crazy late in the game, but you never come to Azteca and expect to have it easy,” Guzan said.

Mexico had 15 corners, but failed to capitalize as the US claimed just their second away point against Mexico in World Cup qualifying history.

Heading into the match, the US had a 0-13-1 record in World Cup qualifiers in Mexico.

“Many people doubted us, but we came together as a group,” US forward Herculez Gomez said. “It’s really impressive. This is a great group of guys.”

US manager Jurgen Klinsmann was forced to make a couple of changes to the starting 11 that beat Costa Rica in blizzard conditions last week, but the switches paid off.

Maurice Edu was inserted into the midfield in place of Jermaine Jones, who suffered a foot injury in Friday’s 1-0 win. Defender Matt Besler was given the nod ahead of Clarence Goodson, who is nursing a hamstring injury.

Mexico were the more aggressive team throughout. They had their first great chance just eight minutes into the game when Carlos Salcido was taken down just outside the box, but the resulting free-kick sailed over the crossbar.

In the 77th minute, Mexico felt they should have had a penalty when Javier Aquino was dragged down by Edu, but the referee waved away the claims, with the players complaining vehemently to the officials during and after the match.

Guzan made a diving save in stoppage-time following a thunderous drive by Diego Reyes from just outside the penalty area and the US held on for a draw.

The result leaves the US in third place in the group with four points, while Mexico have three draws from three matches and sit in fifth place. The US’ next qualifying game is June 7 against Jamaica.

Panama are top of the group with five points after beating Honduras 2-0 on Tuesday with goals from Luis Tejada and Blas Perez.

In Tuesday’s other match, Michael Umana and Diego Calvo scored as Costa Rica earned their first win of the round with a 2-0 victory over Jamaica.

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