The U.S. Men’s National Team may have garnered all the headlines on Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but it was their biggest rival who rose to the top of the table by Friday’s end.
Mexico moved up to top spot in the Hex after a 2-0 victory at Estadio Azteca against Costa Rica. Juan Carlos Osorio’s side kicked things off early as Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez finished off Carlos Vela’s through ball for a 1-0 lead. Hernandez’s 46th international goal for Mexico tied him for the nation’s all-time record with Jared Borgetti.
Costa Rica’s best chance of the first half came from Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo, whose header barely missed in the 13th minute.
Mexico doubled their advantage just before halftime as Nestor Araujo headed home Vela’s cross into the bottom-left corner for a 2-0 lead.
The Ticos tried to switch things up with three attacked substitutions in the second half, but they failed to record a shot on goal the rest of the way. The visitors were held to long-range efforts while Bryan Ruiz and David Guzman saw their efforts go wide, while Giancarlo Gonzalez’s close-range stoppage-time header missed high. Keylor Navas made two saves in the defeat and Guillermo Ochoa made two saves to earn the clean sheet.
Mexico will look to keep their unbeaten start to the Hex in tact as they travel to Trinidad & Tobago on Matchday 4. Costa Rica will look to bounce back from their first defeat in qualifying as they travel to Honduras on Tuesday.
T&T Shock Panama for First Hex Points
Trinidad and Tobago kicked off the Hex’s third matchday with a 1-0 victory against visiting Panama.
Following consecutive defeats to Costa Rica and Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago earned their first three points of qualifying thanks to a comfortable win at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Kevin Molino’s 37th-minute strike from outside the box gave the hosts a 1-0 lead going into halftime. Yoel Barcenas’ long-range effort in stoppage-time was Panama’s best effort on goal.
Molino came closest to extending Trinidad & Tobago’s lead in the second half, but the score remained 1-0. Anibal Godoy’s 90th minute effort from close range soared slightly over the crossbar which was Panama’s closest chance to earning a late point.
The final whistle was a welcome sound for the Soca Warriors after a tumultuous start to the Hex. Panama’s Jaime Penedo made four saves in the defeat, while the visitors only recorded two shots on goal.
Trinidad & Tobago sit in fifth place on goal-differential, but should take confidence heading into a home match against Mexico on March 28th. Panama remain in third place, and will look to bounce back at home against the United States on Tuesday in Panama City.