Mexico defeated El Salvador 4-1 on Saturday to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, becoming the first team from the North, Central American and Caribbean Zone to book a spot.
Salvadoran Marvin Gonzalez netted an own goal for the only tally of the first half, under heavy pressure from Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Blanco, Mexico's man of the match, then found the net in the 70th minute after a brilliant counter-attack to ease any worries at Estadio Azteca.
Francisco Palencia, who replaced Blanco with 13 minutes left to play, made it 3-1 for the hosts in the 84th minute before Julio Martinez pulled one back for the Salvadorans in the 87th minute.
Carlos Vela, who had an outstanding game for El Tri, boosted Mexico's final margin back to three in the 90th minute with a fine strike from close range.
"I'm so happy. This is a time to celebrate," said captain Rafa Marquez, who made his return after a long injury lay-off. "This is a great team and Javier Aguirre is a great coach. We worked hard and got the job done. The credit goes to all to my teammates and to the coach. They are all amazing."
South Africa 2010 will be Mexico's 14th appearance at the global finals, best among teams from their region.