Mexico beat USA 3-2 in front of a capacity crowd of 93,723 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California to lift the CONCACAF Cup and earned the right to represent the region at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.
In a wildly entertaining match that needed 120 minutes to find a winner, Paul Aguilar scored to give Mexico the victory only minutes before penalties would have been required. USA won the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and Mexico were crowned champions of the continental tournament this summer, which created a unique situation that required this one-match play-off to determine CONCACAF’s participant at the Confederations Cup.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez opened the scoring for Mexico in the tenth minute, tapping home from only a few yards out to finish off a good spell of possession and positive build-up from El Tri. USA equalised five minutes later from a set-piece, Geoff Cameron heading in Michael Bradley’s free-kick. Bradley nearly put the Stars and Stripes ahead just before the break from another free-kick, but Moises Munoz did well to deny the American captain with a fine save at the near post.
Just after the restart Mexico were denied by a brave save from Brad Guzan, Raul Jimenez jumping on a defensive miscue but the Aston Villa shot-stopper denied El Tri’s No9. The second 45 minutes proved to be a tense, albeit scoreless affair, and extra time was required to determine a winner.
Oribe Peralta put Mexico ahead six minutes into the extra period with a calm finish from 12 yards to send the El Tri supporters into a frenzy around the Rose Bowl. However, in the 108th minute, Bobby Wood – called into the USA squad only yesterday to replace the ailing Alejandro Bedoya – equalised for the Americans. DeAndre Yedlin slid in a through ball in from the edge of the box and Wood, who has scored important goals for the Stars and Stripes against Germany and Netherlands earlier this year, finished past Munoz to make it 2-2.
That goal energised the Americans and they continued to press forward, but it was Aguilar who scored the winner for Mexico two minutes from time in spectacular fashion. USA were unable to clear their back line and Aguilar’s volley from the right beat the diving Guzan and settled into the side netting to send El Tri to Russia in 2017.