Jimenez wonder goal gives Mexico hope

Posted by Juan Martín Figueira, ESPN Stats & Information

Mexico revived its hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup thanks to highlight-reel goal by Raúl Jiménez.

Jiménez, who had not taken a shot in the game until he scored in the 85th minute, solved Mexico’s attacking deficiencies with his bicycle-kick goal from 19 yards out.

The 22-year-old’s goal came at a crucial moment; four minutes before his goal Luis Tejada had tied it for Panama, who had only four shots up until that moment. A draw would have kept Mexico out of the qualifying spots.

Throughout this qualifying round, goal scoring has been a serious issue for Mexico. In 2013, since the start of the final round of qualifiers, Mexico’s six goals are second-fewest in CONCACAF.

Moreover, against Panama, El Tri scored twice as many goals as it had in its previous four home games. Despite finally finding the net, Mexico still struggled to finish its chances: only five out of 13 shots were on goal and Javier Hernández missed a golden chance from the penalty spot.

This was Chicharito’s 2nd consecutive penalty miss with the national team, with his last miss coming against Japan in the Confederations Cup.

Oribe Peralta, who led the team in shots (three), scored his fourth goal with Mexico in the last four games. So far, Peralta has scored eight international goals with half of them taking place in the past two months.

Few would have imagined Mexico fighting for a playoff spot with only a couple of games left in the qualification process. Despite the win, Mexico isn’t guaranteed anything. After going winless in its first four home qualifiers this year (0-1-3), coach Víctor Vucetich’s team needs to win its last game by two or more goals and hope for a Honduras loss against Jamaica.

This win gives Mexico a 76.6 percent chance of qualifying to the World Cup according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index. However, if Mexico qualifies it is likely to be through the playoff (85.7 percent).

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