Mexico's Angel Sepulveda (pictured) celebrates after scoring against host El Salvador in a World Cup qualifier on September 2, 2016, in San Salvador. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- Angel Sepulveda scored on his international debut to help Mexico improve upon its perfect World Cup Qualifying record with a 3-1 victory over El Salvador on Friday night at the Estadio Cuscutlan.
Hector Moreno equalized earlier in the second half for Mexico. Sepulveda also earned a late penalty, converted by Raul Jimenez, as the Tricolor (5W-0D-0L, 15 points) eliminated El Salvador from CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying contention in this fourth-round, Group A encounter.
Alexander Larin netted early for the Cuscatlecos (0-2-3, 2), who needed a victory to stay alive heading into their final group match Tuesday at Canada (1-1-3, 4). El Salvador last qualified for the Hexagonal stage during the 2010 World Cup cycle, ultimately finishing fifth.
Mexico, which has scored multiple goals in all five of its qualifiers and entered Friday with first place clinched, will host Honduras (2-1-2, 7) in the other match.
El Salvador got the start it needed when Mexico defender Jorge Torres Nilo handled a cross aimed at an attacker near the penalty spot.
Larin stepped up and converted the spot kick, chipping it lightly down the center of the goal as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa guessed wrong and dove left.
Moreno leveled seven minutes after halftime off a play following a set piece, sending a left-footed first touch of Andres Guardado’s cross from the left inside the left post.
Sepulveda then gave Mexico the lead in the 58th minute. He ran onto Hector Herrera’s service and drove an unmarked header between goalkeeper Derby Carrillo and the right post.
The Queretaro striker would’ve had two more goals if not for a pair of breakaway stops from Carrillo, but he eventually helped create Mexico’s third by rounding defender Roberto Dominguez and drawing a foul judged to be on the edge of the penalty area.
Jimenez coolly put away a penalty similar to Larin’s, becoming the 10th Mexican player to score this qualification cycle.