United States and Mexico march on to 2010


Cuauhtemoc Blanco (center) of Mexico celebrates his goal with teammates against Honduras.
Mexico and the United States both secured narrow 1-0 victories in their North and Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) zone games to maintain their momentum towards qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Trinidad and Tobago were sunk in the Port of Spain by a lone goal from Ricardo Clark, who shot powerfully past goalkeeper Clayton Ince after 62 minutes to seal the first away victory of the round for the American travelers. The win leaves Bob Bradley’s side top of the six-team group with 16 points and two games left to play, while Trinidad and Tobago were eliminated from qualification and kept rooted to the bottom with the result. “For us it was a very important three points, [but] we felt that it was well earned because [it] was a difficult game,” Bradley told reporters after the match. Elsewhere, Mexico kept up the pressure on their rivals with a 1-0 win over Honduras at the Azteca Stadium, a result that leaves Javier Aguirre’s side second in the group and a point behind the United States after four straight wins. Long-range shots rained down on Honduran goalkeeper Noal Valladeras before Miguel Sabah fluffed his lines in front of goal when found by a Carlos Salcido’s cross in the first half.

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The breakthrough came when Giovanni Dos Santos earned his team a penalty on 75 minutes, after a further spell of domination from the home side and a foul from Maynor Figueroa, which Cuauhtemoc Blanco duly converted. The win eased Mexican nerves, who had lost to the Catrachos in two previous meetings, and left Honduras in third place on 13 points. Meanwhile, El Salvador defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in San Salvador to keep their World Cup dreams alive — thanks to an extra-time strike from Rudis Corrales. The victory placed the side within three points of their beaten opponents who remain in fourth on 12. The top three countries from the region will progress to the World Cup finals in South Africa, while the fourth-placed team plays off for a place against the fifth-placed team from South America.

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