- *Mexico the fifth side to reach Russia 2018 *
- Costa Rica move up to second in the Hexagonal thanks to superb win in the USA
- Honduras also win to move into contention
THE DAY REPLAYED – Narrow victors over Panama on Friday, Mexico became the fifth side to book their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
Costa Rica took a big step closer to joining them thanks to their away win in the USA, while Honduras kept their hopes alive by picking up three valuable points in Trinidad and Tobago.
*Match of the day *To the delight of a vociferous crowd at the Estadio Azteca, Mexico saw off Panama to secure the points they needed to qualify for Russia 2018. After a slow start to the game, *El Tri *gradually picked up the pace, creating a handful of opportunities before half-time.
The only goal of the evening came shortly after the restart, courtesy of substitute Hirving Lozano. It was enough to take Mexico through with three games to spare and maintain their unbeaten record in the CONCACAF qualifiers. World Cup finalists for the seventh time in a row, El Tri will contest their 16th world finals in Russia next year.
Costa Rica scored their first qualifying win on American soil in 32 years, with a Marco Urena brace moving them on to 14 points and within touching distance of a place in the finals.
Honduras took full advantage of USA’s slip-up, scoring their first away win in the Hexagonal and moving right into contention for a ticket to Russia 2018. Jorge Luis Pinto’s side were indebted to a fast start, scoring twice inside the first 20 minutes to set up a crucial win.
Player of the day
Hirving Lozano (Mexico)
After starting the game on the bench, the striker got his opportunity when Juan Carlos Osorio brought him on for Jurgen Damm six minutes into the second half. He made his mark immediately, getting on the end of a Jose Corona cross to nod home the goal that takes Mexico to Russia. The PSV Eindhoven player proved a constant threat to the Panama defence, troubling them with his pace and ability to get past people.
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