Mexico and the US qualified for the 2010 World Cup with impressive triumphs on Saturday, while Costa Rica and Honduras will carry their quest for South Africa to the final matches.
Conor Casey scored two goals and Landon Donovan curled a free-kick into the net in the 70th minute to give the US a 3-2 victory at Honduras, ending the hosts’ eight-match home qualifying win streak.
The Mexicans started slow, but netted three goals in the last 20 minutes for a 4-1 victory over El Salvador, who were eliminated from contention for next year’s global soccer showdown as a result of the defeat.
With one match remaining, the US top the table with 19 points, while Mexico are second with 18.
Costa Rica blanked already-eliminated Trinidad and Tobago 4-0, the Ticos winning their first match under new coach Rene Simoes.
Costa Rica have 15 points, while Honduras have 13 points.
One of them will seize the third and last North American regional automatic qualifying spot after Wednesday’s last qualifiers, which see Costa Rica in the US, Honduras in El Salvador and Mexico in Trinidad and Tobago.
Either Honduras or Costa Rica will finish fourth and face the fifth-placed team from South America.
At San Pedro Sula, Julio de Leon opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half to give hosts Honduras the lead against the US.
Casey nodded home the equalizer in the 54th minute and took a pass from Donovan to fire the US in front past goalkeeper Noel Valladares in the 65th minute. Donovan netted his free-kick and de Leon found the net again as the tension grew.
Honduras had a penalty kick in the 86th minute after a handball by Stuart Holden, but Carlos Pavon sent his shot over the crossbar, squandering a golden chance for the equalizer.
In Mexico City, Mexico took the lead after an own-goal by Marvin Gonzalez of El Salvador in the 25th minute. Tension mounted as Mexico continued to be denied, but Cuauhtemoc Blanco broke through in the 70th minute to give the hosts a 2-0 lead and Francisco Palencia added an insurance goal for the Tricolores in the 84th minute.
Julio Martinez ended the shutout for the Salvadorans in the 87th minute, but Carlos Vela answered for Mexico in the last minute.
An own-goal also opened the scoring for Costa Rica, with Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bark finding his own net in the 26th minute.
Walter Centeno found the net in the 50th minute and Alvoro Saborio scored in the 61st minute and 63rd minute to complete the rout for Costa Rica.
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