Mexico dodges a bullet and makes it to the World Cup playoff

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    Mexico will face New Zealand in the World Cup qualifying playoff.

    Mexico’s Oribe Peralta, right, grimaces as Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez and goalkeeper Keilor Navas celebrate at the end of a 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. Costa Rica beat Mexico 2-1. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Mexico’s has to be thanking its lucky stars. They are on their way to the World Cup qualifying playoff match against New Zealand thanks to a 92nd minute goal by the United States.

    The Mexican national team’s woes continued against Panama. “El Tri” went lost 2-1 against Costa Rica in the final qualifying match of the CONCACAF region.

    Panama, on the other hand, faced the United States, knowing that they needed a win over the “stars and stripes” combined with a Mexico loss.

    Mexico started off on the wrong foot. In the 25th minute Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz put Costa Rica up 1-0 with a fantastic move in the box. He blasted the shot past Memo Ochoa. That goal left Mexico in a nervous haze, and to make matters worse Panama took an early lead over the United States in the 18th minute of that match.

    It began to look like Mexico would miss the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Oribe Peralta had other plans. The Mexican striker made the game level in the 29th minute with a shot that hit the bar and went in. The goal gave “El Tri” some breathing room.

    The Mexican national team had to hold its collective breath well into the second half. Michael Orozco, who plays in Mexico and is of Mexican descent, scored for the US and made the game 1-1. That goal was putting Mexico into the World Cup qualifying playoff.

    Mexico’s World Cup qualifying nearly slipped away

    Costa Rica, which was already qualified for Brazil 2014, made things a little more interesting in the 64th minute with a towering header by Alvaro Saborio.

    The 1-2 against Mexico knew that a Panama tie would leave them out of the running for the World Cup.

    The Panamanian national team stunned the United States in the 84th minute of the match. Striker Luis Tejada scored what looked to the goal that clinched Panama’s playoff spot.

    The news of the goal circulated in the stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica. “El Tri” looked visibly beaten when they got the news. A team that has been inconsistent throughout the entire hexagonal was on the outside looking in. And then the miracle happened.

    The United States lends Mexico a helping hand

    United States winger Graham Zusi scored a fabulous header in the 92nd minute of the match. That 2-2 result assured Mexico of a place in the World Cup playoff, and then just one minute later Aron Johannsson scored for the US to make the final score 3-2.

    Mexico will have to face New Zealand for a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    Not everything is good news for Mexico. They will have to face the first leg of the playoff without star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. The Manchester United striker picked up a questionable yellow card after a tussle in the box prior to a free kick. The caution lands him an automatic one game suspension.

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