Mexico 2 - USA 1: Blanco Provides Assist

MEX SOC CASTRO

In a match that lived up to all of its billing, all of the hype, the Mexico defeated the U.S. 2-1 in a World Cup Qualifying Match at the vaunted Estadio Azteca.

Mexico dominated the possession for the entire 90 minutes but it was the U.S. that struck first, scoring the opener through forward Charlie Davies in the 9th minute. Davies - who found himself unmarked and with the ball on his feet on the left flank after a great diagonal through ball from Landon Donovan - finished his chance nicely, curling his shot past Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa and into the back of the net.
Mexico started taking control after the U.S. took the lead though and they equalized only 10 minutes after the U.S. scored the opener. Israel Castro was the hero for 'El Tri' as he blasted Fire midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco's pass over an outstretched Tim Howard, off the underside of the bar and into the net.

Mexico continued attacking after they scored and they came close in the 29th, when U.S. keeper Tim Howard did very well to block Cuauhtemoc Blanco's free kick shot from outside the left side of the area.

The match did cool down a little bit after Blanco's near finish and the sides went into the half tied at 1. But with the opening whistle of the second half came more attacking play and Mexico - yet again - came close in the 58th, but Howard was able to save Gio Dos Santos' left footed volley from only 8 yards out.

The U.S. had a near chance in the 72nd minute when substitute Stuart Holden hit a great cross from the right side but Charlie Davies - despite being unmarked - was unable to get his head to it and the ball flashed across the goal harmlessly.

The 75th minute saw a little feistiness enter the match when Benny Feilhaber took exception to Nery Castillo's attempt to pull Charlie Davies off the ground and charged at a group of Mexican players, with a brief shoving match ensuing. Mexican midfielder Gerardo Torrado picked up a yellow for his role in the incident.

The match reached its climax in the 82nd minute when substitute forward Miguel Sabah sent the 100,000+ at Azteca into a frenzy and put his side up for good when a deflected cross found his feet only 8 yards out and he hit it past Howard and into the roof of the net. The U.S. failed to create anymore real chances after Sabah's goal and when the final whistle sounded 'El Tri' walked away pretty deserving winners.

The win lets Mexico breathe a sigh of relief of sorts in their qualifying campaign whereas the loss really doesn't put any damper to the U.S.'s qualification hopes as - no matter the result of tonight's Honduras - Costa Rica game - the Nats will still have one of CONCACAF's the three automatic qualification slots.

The Fire's Cuauhtemoc Blanco played well in the game, providing an assist and looking dangerous for Mexico throughout his time on the field. Hopefully 'Temo will be ready for the Fire's game at Kansas City on Sunday, but I'm not sure if anyone can expect him to go the full 90.

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