By FRANCO PANIZO
Carlos Ruiz did it again.
Ruiz lifted Guatemala to their latest win in Group A action on Friday night, a big 2-1 triumph over Jamaica. Ruiz headed home a corner kick in the 85th minute to break the deadlock in a game that seemed destined to end in a stalemate, and that helped tie Guatemala with the U.S. atop the group with one game left to play.
Guatemala had initially taken the lead after Carlos Figueroa netted 16 minutes in, but the Reggae Boyz equalized off a penalty kick from Luton Shelton. Jamaica never built on that, allowing Guatemala to grab all three points when Ruiz nodded home a corner with ease.
The result now means that all Guatemala needs is a draw next Tuesday against the United States to advance. Jamaica, meanwhile, need to beat lowly Antigua & Barbuda and hope the Americans top Guatemala.
Here are the other results from Friday night’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying action:
MEXICO SCORES LATE TO BEGIN ROUT OVER GUYANA
Mexico’s spotless record in the semifinal round of qualifying was on the brink of being blemished, but a late goal opened the floodgates and gave the pro-El Tri crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium something to cheer about. Having seen Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernandez miss a penalty kick four minutes in, fans at the Guyana ‘home’ game had to wait until the 78th minute to see the first goal of what was ultimately a 5-0 win for an El Tri side that had already secured advancement to the Hexagonal. The flooadgates opened after the Andres Guardado strike, as Hernandez, Oribe Peralta, Angel Reyna Martinez and an own goal paved the way for the Mexican rout over eliminated Guyana in Group B.
COSTA RICA PICK UP HUGE WIN IN EL SALVADOR
Needing a win on the road to keep their World Cup dreams alive, Costa Rica came through in a big way. Los Ticos picked up a big 1-0 victory over a nine-man El Salvador team in Group B, a result that will likely see La Selecta get eliminated and Costa Rica advance to the Hexagonal. Jose Cubero found the back of the net just after the half-hour and El Salvador were never able to find an equalizer. The hosts even hurt their chances of pulling off an upset against Mexico in the final group match, as both Alfredo Pacheco and Eliseo Quintanilla will miss the all-important game after getting ejected late in the game. Costa Rica, who will next take on Guyana, have seven points while El Salvador are stuck at five.
HONDURAS HOLDS PANAMA TO GOAL-LESS DRAW
A win would have placed Panama into the Hexagonal, but instead they settled for a draw at home that postponed their likely advancement. Honduras held the Panamanians to a scoreless tie in Group C, which now sets up an intense final day of group play. Panama, currently on 10 points, are likely to book their berth into the next round as they take on winless Cuba next Tuesday, while Canada will visit Honduras in a game that could see either team advance.
What do you think of these results? Which teams do you see advancing from Group A? Impressed with Mexico’s latest victory?
Share your thoughts below.