Rafael Marquez headed in a late winner to secure Mexico’s dramatic 2-1 victory over the United States in a Concacaf World Cup qualifier match in Ohio on Friday.
With emotions running high, ‘El Tri’ delivered a brutal knockout punch to the Americans as Marquez directed a header into goal off a corner kick in the 89th minute to deflate the hosts who had dominated during a feisty second half.
The match between rivals featured eight yellow cards and a team-wide pushing match between both sides in extra time for an explosive start to the Hexagonal.
The showdown took on extra meaning just days after the US elected Donald Trump as President. Trump has threatened to build a wall along the border between the two countries in a proposed crackdown on illegal immigration.
“Mexico had the better first half, in the second half we were outstanding,” US coach Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters.
“Overall, it was a very intense and exciting really quality battle. Now this puts us on our toes going down to Costa Rica (Tuesday) to try to get three points.”
Mexico persevered through cold weather and physicality, however, and joined the trend of road teams winning the opening round.
Costa Rica defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 and Panama beat Honduras 1-0 as each road side earned the opening three points.
The US also lost veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard who was forced out of the game in the 40th minute with what appeared to be a leg injury.
The 37-year-old went down when taking a goal kick, and was replaced by Brad Guzan.
Klinsmann said he does not expect Howard to make the trip to Costa Rica for Tuesday’s game and the goalkeeper will undergo an MRI on Saturday.
“The groin is sore for sure, we’ll find out more tomorrow,” Howard said.
“I’m disappointed for the group. We gave as good as we got, and in the end a set piece let us down.”
Miguel Layun opened the scoring for Mexico in the 20th minute and ‘El Tri’ looked poise to build a big lead as they spread out the Americans and ran free in space.
The U.S. survived the assault then completely shifted the momentum in the second half where Bobby Wood tied the match in the 49th minute after a nice run and pass from team mate Jozy Altidore.
Mexico held on to get the final say in the closing minutes.
“We were working to get this result. I think we deserved this, and three points puts us in good position,” Layun said.