Mexico qualifies for playoff after wild Tuesday

Posted by Jacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats & Information

In an exciting final day of qualifying Tuesday, Mexico fell 2-1 to Costa Rica but thanks to some assistance from the United States, El Tri will face New Zealand in a playoff for a spot in the World Cup.

The U.S. defeated Panama 3-2 with two late goals, and Honduras drew 2-2 with Jamaica to clinch the final automatic CONCACAF World Cup berth. Here are five notes to recap the final day of the Hex:

Mexico scored just seven goals in its 10 games in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying; only last-place Jamaica had fewer with five. The lack of scoring by Mexico is surprising given that Mexico led the final round with 126 shots and 39 shots on goal. Mexico’s 11 points in the 10 games are the fewest by any team to finish in the top four since the Hexagonal format was established in 1998. Mexico had never finished the final round with less than 17 points.

Oribe Peralta scored for Mexico in the 29th minute Tuesday. He has scored in each of the last three World Cup qualifiers that he has started, doing so with his only shot on target in each of those three matches. It was his fifth goal overall in World Cup qualifying, tying Javier Hernandez for the most on the team. Peralta has scored nine times in 12 starts for the Mexican National team.

Mexico will face New Zealand in a two-legged playoff in November for a spot in the World Cup. El Tri will look to avoid missing the World Cup for the first time since 1990 when it was ineligible. Mexico has not been eliminated in World Cup Qualifying since 1982. According to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), Mexico is a heavy favorite over New Zealand, advancing to the World Cup 85.5 percent of the time.

Aron Johannsson’s match-winning goal in the 93rd minute was his first for the U.S. The U.S. has now scored a goal in 17 straight games, the second-longest streak in USMNT history. The U.S. had a 23-game stretch with at least one goal in 2004-05. The U.S. earned 22 points in the Hex, tying the team record. The only team to get more since 1998 was 2002 Costa Rica (23).

Honduras clinched its second consecutive World Cup berth and third appearance overall by drawing with Jamaica 2-2. Jamaica went 0-5-5, becoming only the second team to go winless in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying since 1998, joining Panama, which was 0-8-2 in 2006.

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