Paul Aguilar (pictured) goes to celebrate after scoring against the USA in the CONCACAF Cup on October 10, 2015, in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Mexsport)
PASADENA, California -- Paul Aguilar couldn’t resist. He sprinted in jubilation, taking a head-first dive near a Rose Bowl field board Saturday night.
The defender had just fired home the game-winning goal in a 3-2 triumph over the United States in the first CONCACAF Cup. His near flawless technique resembled that of a skilled craftsman as he volleyed a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Aguilar erupted in elation. Almost in disbelief, the Club America standout stayed on the ground, his face buried in his hands. Teammates piled on soon after to continue celebrating the 118th minute strike. The final whistle sounded minutes later and the Tricolor had clinched a trip to Russia for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
“I’m just happy to be part of this important win,” Aguilar said. “It’s something you dream of doing with the national team since you are a little kid…to score and to score the winning goal is even better.”
The tally not only came at the right time for Mexico, it was a play that most players would not be able to finish under the stress and fatigue of a 2-2 tie, late in extra time, with penalty kicks looming. But Aguilar cashed in on the opportunity when Raul Jimenez flicked a ball over his defender to the right. That’s where the 29-year-old could be found completely unmarked.
Although that proved to be the difference maker, Aguilar also helped create a handful of dangerous opportunities throughout the match. One of them came in the first half, setting up Oribe Peralta’s goal to give Mexico a 2-1 lead early in the first extra time.
“I think he was a key player for us tonight like were the rest of the guys on the team,” Peralta said about Aguilar. “He came through at the right moment.”
And doing so at a venue located in close proximity to Hollywood added even more drama to the occasion.