Mexico remained unbeaten in World Cup qualifying and mathematically guaranteed their spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 1-0 victory against Panama on Friday night. The loss saw the Canaleros drop into fifth in the Hex.
The first half saw El Tri dominate possession but fail to do much with it. José Calderón had little to do in goal for Panama as Mexico struggled to put their chances on frame. Halftime rolled around with the game still 0-0 and with antsy fans beginning to whistle and boo.
The second half started with much more action. Memo Ochoa made a pair of fine saves against a suddenly-inspired Panama before substitute Hirving Lozano came on and changed the game for Mexico.
Lozano entered the game in the 51st minute, had a penalty claim turned down in the 52nd, and scored the opener in the 53rd. He got his head to a great service by Tecatito Corona to make it 1-0 for the hosts.
That goal settled some nerves and Mexico had plenty of opportunities to add a second. One of their best chances came in the 74th minute when Javier Aquino found himself in a perfect position but sent the ball over the bar.
Panama threatened an equalizer a few times, but Ochoa and the back line stood firm to post a shutout, and Lozano’s goal held up.
With the 1-0 win, Mexico reaches 17 points while Panama still has seven.
|6||Trinidad and Tobago||1||0||6||4||12||-8||3|
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Hugo Ayala, Diego Reyes, Néstor Araujo, Jürgen Damm (Hirving Lozano 51′), Jesús Manuel Corona (Javier Aquino 65′), Andrés Guardado, Jesús Gallardo, Héctor Herrera, Javier Hernández, Carlos Vela (César Montes 83′).
Panama: José Calderón, Felipe Baloy, Roberto Chen (Fidel Escobar 57′), Luis Ovalle, Adolfo Machado, Ricardo Buitrago (Gabriel Torres 64′), Gabriel Gómez, Aníbal Godoy, Luis Tejada, Erick Davis (Alberto Quintero 28′), Armando Cooper.