Mexico (pictured) celebrates after defeating the USA to win the CONCACAF Cup on October 10, 2015, in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Mexsport)
PASADENA, California -- Paul Aguilar scored in the 118th minute to give Mexico a 3-2 victory over the United States in the CONCACAF Cup on Saturday night, earning the Tricolor berth at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
The 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup champion qualified for its seventh Confederations Cup.
Aguilar climaxed a memorable, end-to-end match with his dramatic goal. After the U.S. cleared the ball out of the penalty area, Raul Jimenez lifted it in the air to the right side. With near inch-perfect technique, the Club America star maintained remarkable concentration to drill a right-footed volley past goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
As expected, the Rose Bowl had an electric atmosphere as the game started with much intensity from the players and an emotionally charged capacity crowd of 93,273.
The Tricolor struck first in the 10th minute through forward Javier Hernandez, who tallied his first-ever goal against the USA. In a quick succession of pin-point passes that pried open the American defense, Jimenez found an unmarked Oribe Peralta on the right side of the penalty area. As he zeroed in on Guzan, Peralta shuffled a short pass to the center of the box for Hernandez to knock in at the left post.
It did not take the USA long to equalize. Midfielder Michael Bradley sent a free kick from the left side into the area. An onrushing defender Geoff Cameron got a step on his marker and headed the ball past goalkeeper Moises Muñoz to knot the score at 1-1 in the 15th minute.
Both sides had additional chances in the opening 45 minutes.
Bradley came close on a couple of occasions. As he charged towards the net, the U.S. captain fired a 16-yard attempt wide right in the 32nd minute and placed another left-sided free kick towards the near post that forced Muñoz to make a diving save just before halftime.
In between those misses, the Mexicans were involved in a controversial play in the 34th minute, when they were called for an offside while Peralta slammed into Guzan after the play. A shoving match between the teams ensued and Peralta was issued a yellow card by referee Joel Aguilar.
The Mexicans held the ball for huge stretches of time in the second half, forcing a fatigued U.S. side to use exert substantial levels of energy on defense.
Mexico took its second lead in the first extra-time period as Peralta – the 2013 CONCACAF Player of the Year – slotted home past Guzan off an assist by Aguilar to break a 1-1 deadlock in the 108th minute.
The Americans again equalized in the second extra time. Substitute Bobby Wood, who has a penchant for scoring vital late goals off the bench, lived up to his reputation. The 22-year-old Germany-based forward latched onto a DeAndre Yedlin pass, beating Muñoz from seven yards to make it 2-2.