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Late Marquez goal lifts Mexico over U.S. in WCQ thriller
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Rafael Marquez (pictured) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal for Mexico against the host USA on November 11, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: Jorge Martinez/isiphotos)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mexico won an away World Cup qualifier against the United States for the first time in 34 years, earning a 2-1 victory on Friday at MAPFRE Stadium.

The result ended a string of four straight 2-0 triumphs by the Americans over their southern neighbor at the same venue in CONCACAF qualifying. Mexico’s last win at the U.S. in a qualifier came on September 10, 1972, in Los Angeles, also by 2-1.

Rafael Marquez, 37, broke a 1-1 tie in the 89th minute, when his flicked header at the near post off Miguel Layun’s left-sided corner kick curled into the far-side netting.

The influential Layun gave the visitor a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute. A battle for possession between U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley and Mexico’s Giovani dos Santos ended up with the ball squirting loose. Layun picked it up and fired a right-footed shot from 25-yards out that may have taken a slight deflection before bouncing over the left hand of diving goalkeeper Tim Howard and sneaking inside the right post. 

Howard was forced from the game in 40th minute with an apparent groin injury, making way for Brad Guzan. 

An entertaining second half started with an energetic U.S. on the attack.

Four minutes in, Jozy Altidore slipped a pass into the middle for a streaking Bobby Wood, whose first touch allowed him to split a pair of defenders in the box. Nimbly maintaining control, the Hamburg forward swept a left-footed shot from eight yards that found the back of the net despite it deflecting off a sliding Layun and then the lowered right hand of goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.

Although Talavera was powerless to hinder that effort, he made tremendous saves when needed. In the 34th minute, the Toluca star did well to stop an Altidore header. He got his hands up quickly enough to thwart a vicious attempt off Wood’s left foot in the 74th minute and tipped an Altidore free kick over the crossbar three minutes later. 

Mexico was unlucky not to take an even larger first-half lead, with Carlos Vela heading Jesus Corona’s left-sided cross off the crossbar in the 25th minute.

Both sides will contest their second fifth-round game on Tuesday, with Mexico visiting Panama and the U.S. traveling to Costa Rica.

 
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