Costa Rica holds Mexico to another draw

MEXICO CITY - Mexico departs for Brazil and the FIFA Confederations Cup with mixed emotions after a 0-0 draw with visiting Costa Rica on Tuesday in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

Despite its third consecutive scoreless qualifier at the Estadio Azteca, El Tri still holds third place in the Hexagonal table, a position that would give it an automatic berth at next year's finals.

With the result and the now first-place United States' win over Panama, Costa Rica is second with eight points, ahead of the Mexicans on goal difference. Mexico, however, has played one more game than the top two.

The Ticos almost went ahead in the fourth minute, but Joel Campbell's effort hit the far post. Mexico tried to respond with a chance in the area, but a cross from Aldo De Nigris for Javier Hernández was cut off by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Similar to previous matches, Mexican goalkeeper Jesús Corona was once again a central figure for José Manuel de la Torre's side. The Cruz Azul star stopped a dangerous 36th minute attempt from the influential Campbell.

With the pressure rising, Mexico went all out after the interval in search for a goal, but it was unable to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, Costa Rica did well to maintain its lines and cleared away balls as needed. The Central Americans forced México to play out wide on the flanks and took away the danger in the middle of the pitch.

The last chance for Mexico came in the 85th minute, when Gerardo Flores headed a center from Andrés Guardado, but Hernández was unable to meet the ball at the far post.

For the Ticos, though a positive score, it was not a repeat of the historic 'Aztecazo' from 12 years ago. On June 16, 2011, Costa Rica became the only team to ever win a World Cup qualifier against Mexico at the Azteca, prevailing 2-1.

As for Mexico, it must rediscover its scoring touch prior to its Confederations Cup opener against Italy on June 16.