Mexico lost their unbeaten status in World Cup qualifying as they fell 3-2 to Honduras – a result that had little effect on El Tri, who were already guaranteed first place in the Hex going into tonight, but which granted Los Catrachos fourth place, and with it, a playoff against Australia.
The result also helped keep the United States from qualifying, as the U.S. failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986 after a loss to Trinidad and Tobago combined with Panama’s victory over Costa Rica and Honduras’s win against Mexico.
Honduras threw numbers forward early and forced several saves out of Guillermo Ochoa, but it was the visiting Mexico who took the lead. In the 17th minute, Oribe Peralta put El Tri ahead in San Pedro Sula.
Los Catrachos tied it up in the 34th minute through Alberth Elis, but parity lasted just five minutes before Carlos Vela made it 1-2 for Mexico.
The tide turned for Honduras in the second half, however. In the 54th minute, Eddie Hernández’s blast ricocheted off the crossbar, struck Ochoa, and rebounded back into the net to tie it 2-2 with what was officially an own-goal for the keeper.
Romell Quioto then put Los Catrachos ahead for the first time in the 60th minute with his right-footed shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-2 and send the crowd in the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano into hysterical celebrations.
A late goal by Panama in their match saw Honduras drop from an automatic qualifying berth into the playoff spot, but even that seemed a distant dream for Los Catrachos at the start of the night. Honduras will now face off with Australia as they look to make a third straight appearance at the World Cup.
With the 3-2 win, Honduras reaches 13 points while Mexico still has 21.
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Honduras: Donis Escober, Maynor Figueroa, Henry Figueroa, Jorge Claros (Bryan Acosta 69′), Brayan Beckeles, Alexander López (Johnny Palacios 88′), Alfredo Mejía, Ever Alvarado, Eddie Hernández, Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Oswaldo Alanís (Jesús Manuel Corona 67′), Hugo Ayala, Jesús Gallardo, Néstor Araujo, Héctor Herrera, Jonathan dos Santos (Edson Álvarez 45′), Carlos Vela (Andrés Guardado 59′), Miguel Layún, Raúl Jiménez, Oribe Peralta.