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CONCACAF Rewind: Jimenez’s late goal brings Mexico victory; Honduras defeat Costa Rica at home; and more

RaulJimenezMexico2-Panama (Mexsport)


With five minutes left in regulation time, Mexico looked as though they were headed for their sixth draw in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, and an outcome that would make qualification for the World Cup very slim.

One minute later, substitute forward Raul Jimenez unleashed a moment of brilliance with a spectacular bicycle kick goal that gave Mexico a 2-1 victory over Panama, keeping El Tri’s qualification hopes alive. The win was the first in 2013 at Estadio Azteca, after a number of draws and a loss last month to Honduras. Also in CONCACAF action on Friday evening, Honduras stunned Costa Rica with a 1-0 victory at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Debuting a new head coach, a new uniform, and some new and old familiar faces in the starting lineup, Mexico looked much like the team that has struggled all year old, the same team that saw Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre lose his job. Despite creating numerous chances, everyone from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to Cristian Gimenez were sending shots high or wide of goal.

That all changed in the 40th minute, as Hernandez found forward partner Oribe Peralta in space on the side of the box, and in a fluid movement, Peralta took down the chip pass and fired home a cathartic goal that gave El Tri life heading into the second half.

With both Mexico and Panama tied on points coming into the game, the Canaleros needed the win just as much as Mexico did, making the second half an open affair. Panama pushed forward on many occasions but were clearly miffed after having a penalty kick call waved off, only to get called for one just seconds later.

Hernandez stepped up to the spot in the 58th minute, but sent a poor penalty kick down the middle that Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo saved with ease, keeping Panama alive. In the 81st minute, Panama were able to take advantage of some lax defending to shock Mexico and score the game-tying goal via Luis Tejada.

However, Jimenez came on one minute later and within four minutes, he became the next Mexico legend with another Azteca moment, the perfectly executed bicycle kick. Even with the victory, Mexico could still fail to qualify for the World Cup if they lose to Costa Rica and Panama defeat the USA on Tuesday, though it’s looking more likely that Mexico will finish in fourth place and play in the playoff round against New Zealand.

In a surprise result, Honduras showed that they can beat anyone in CONCACAF at home with a crucial 1-0 victory over Costa Rica.

Catrachos head coach Luis Fernando Suarez produced another magic decision again when he decided to start Jerry Bengtson, who gets no playing time in MLS but seemingly can’t stop scoring in CONCACAF international matches. Bengtson timed a run into the box perfectly in the 65th minute, taking a pass from Roger Espinoza and slotting the ball in the corner for a goal.

The duo of Bryan Ruiz and Alvaro Sabario didn’t click for the Ticos in San Pedro Sula, and both were replaced in the second half in favor of fresher legs. Joel Campbell came on in the 61st minute and Victor Nuñez in the 70th but they couldn’t break through the compact Honduras defense that held on to the one-goal lead.

With the victory, Honduras is all but assured a place in Brazil next summer, needing just a point at Jamaica on Tuesday to confirm it.


What did you think of these games? Which outcome was bigger for their respective nation? Did you feel like Mexico was headed for a draw before Jimenez’s wonder-goal? Impressed with Bengtson’s goal?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. You know I was getting pretty bummed about some of the commentary on here and elsewhere about how great it would would be if Mexico missed the WC. Now I am a die-hard US soccer homer. I HATE Mexico when it comes to our dealings in WC Qualifying, Gold Cup, friendlies, MLS-LIGA MX showdowns. You name it, I will be screaming the national anthem, busting a lung for US Soccer, and spitting vitriolic hatred toward anything that even looks like El Tri.

    But this stuff made me sad. I wish I could say I was sure people were joking when they suggested we should gear our own USMNT lineup toward maximizing Mexico’s chances of not qualifying. What does this earn us? Will this make us feel better when Panama is getting clowned 5-0 by Belgium in the group stage, and the foreign press is screaming that CONCACAF has no credibility? Anybody who has ever been to a WC knows that the Mexico fans travel in beautiful numbers, and if you have encountered them while wearing the Red White and Blue, you know that the attitude is much more along the lines of “let’s show the world how we do it” than “Eff you Gringo”

    Don’t get me wrong. I hope Mexico suffer the whole way. I hope they go to extra time against New Zealand and 15 rounds of penalties. But I hope they are there. If for no reason other than to watch us knock them out in the quarters.

    • I would agree with you if wasn’t for all of the Mexican national team writers in the last couple weeks who continue to say Mexico is still the best team in Concacaf. That they clearly have the most talent, just for whatever reason haven’t delievered.
      The Hex isn’t a one off tournament where perhaps you have an off day. If Panama get through it’ll be because they deserve it. Mexico falling on there face next year could actually look worse on Concacaf anyway as more would be expected of them.

    • According to the HEX, Mexico is 4th best in CONCACAF. They had their chances just as much as Honduras, Panama had their chance to shine. If Mexico doesn’t qualify, then why would anyone say they want a worst team (Mexico) to represent CONCACAF? Mexico is simply just not as good as the teams that are above them……here is the key….RIGHT NOW. Which is what matters. Face it, other teams in CONCACAF have caught up. Besides, Mexico’s decision to play everyone at Azteca where the environment hurts their own players as much as it hurts others is finally biting them in their butts.

    • @ Ali Dia, good commentary but i’m mexican so i can’t agree with your hate for the national team. I’ll add that i think the major problem with Mexico at present is not the players or coach (he’s had less than a month), but the way administration runs the FMF. They’re pretty good at making money but know jack about football. The US is doing things right… evidenced by recent results. As a Mexican i’d hate to see us out of the WC but that may be the kick in the ass the federation needs to get their shite together. At any rate it’s good to see the US do the job they’re doing. Fair prize for the effort and organization, congrats.

  2. FIFA and concocaf are so sackless. CR and Campbell are threatened with punishment for the unsporting ways against the US but in the end, nothing. Lack of consequences won’t stop that behavior. What a joke. CR has shot down to the bottom of the list as the dirtiest team in concocaf even worse than Guatemala and their betting scandal. Ok at least a tie.

    • hah- i seriously doubt it. it will be good to see 4 CONCACAF teams at the WC, and maybe the Azteca mystique works its magic on the kiwis. if not, the smog, altitude, and 100k desperate mexicans fans probably will.

      • My friend marco rojas, kosta barbarouses ,and winston reid will make sure of that. Howieson needs to be implemented into those games

      • The Smog part of the equation doesn’t come into play so much anymore, particularly after rainy season the air in Mexico City is down right clean. It only gets really bad in January and February when really cold air traps pollution in the valley.

    • Wishful thinking, if they survive concacaf, New Zealand will be like a pie. NZ isn’t really bad, but they have zero experience in such a hostile environment. It’ll be like watching Mexico at home vs. Canada 20 years ago.

  3. That goal by Jimenez was nice. Definitely bailed out the Mexa team. Man, they got lucky. A few minutes from the country going crazy.

  4. A second of brilliance gave Mexico the win. For most of the match a draw looked more likely (and I would have loved to hear what the Mexican fans would be saying about Chicarito if Jimenez had not bailed Mexico out).

    • Most of the match looked like a good team that couldn’t find the net against a lesser team just hanging on and hoping for something, anything good to happen. Other than the play that resulted in Panama’s goal, I was fairly impressed with Mexico’s team defense. They closed down space and options everywhere on the field quickly. They still look more out of ideas than not when it comes to creating scoring opportunities, but managed to create quite a few more than Panama. However, most of the time they weren’t putting any serious threats on the keeper.

      Easily was a game that could have ended in a tie – old story – team dominates defense phase, dominate possession but a lack of spark and bit of bad luck in the attack third makes it all for naught. Fortunately for Mexico, they found some spark in the 85th.

      • Panama wasn’t the first team to come to Azteca put 1 up top, pack it in and hope to come away with a point or steal 3 on a set piece or counter. But of the Concacaf teams in the hex, they were the only one to leave the Mexico City without a point, though they were 1 of the 2 that got a goal there.
        Still respect the advances Panama has made in soccer, and would agree that Mexico needs a creator in the attack. And maybe Mexico should stop playing in D.F. if 8 of the starters don’t currently play at altitude(Ochoa, Ayala, Torres Nilo, Zavala,Aquino, Gio,Sweet Pea, and Peralta).

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