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U.S. holds off Mexico for 0-0 draw
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 By Michael Lewis

MEXICO CITY -- The United States withstood a frantic finish by Mexico to register a surprising scoreless draw in a World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Azteca on Tuesday night.

It was only the second time the Americans managed a result in a qualifier here, having played to a goalless tie in a 1997 qualifier.

The tie improved the U.S.'s record to 1-1-1 and four points, while the disappointing Mexicans played their third consecutive draw in as many games in the CONCACAF hexagonal round, their second successive 0-0 tie at home.

The result could place additional pressure Mexico head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre, who had guided El Tri to a 6-0-0 in the semifinal round.

The Mexicans attempted 15 corner kicks against the U.S. defense that bent, but never broke.

El Tri felt they should have been awarded a penalty kick, when Javier Aquino was tackled from behind by Maurice Edu in the 76th minute. Referee Walter Lopez of Guatemala, though, said to play on.

Striker Javier Hernandez, who has never scored against the U.S., came close to breaking the ice when he sent a corner kick over the crossbar in the 87th minute.

The U.S. did not have many serious scoring opportunities, but did enough to frustrate the Mexicans, who had a solid first half, but seemed to lose their focus on attack in the second half.

There was little doubt that Mexico owned the opening half. Slowly, but surely the host penetrated the U.S. midfield and backline, taking particular advantage of the right flank and left back DaMarcus Beasley. His effectiveness was restricted by an eighth-minute yellow card for fouling Aquino.

Central defender Mike Besler, making his second international appearance, also was booked for a foul on dos Santos in the 20th minute.

The Mexicans' first scoring opportunity came in the 16th minute when dos Santos fired a shot wide right.

Five minutes later, dos Santos tried to test U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan from distance and the U.S. goalkeeper easily handled the shot on one bounce.

Mexico, though, refused to give up. Moments later Chicharito was fed from the right side by Aquino, but his header traveled wide right.

Chicharito tried again to get his team on the scoreboard in the 28th minute, but he sent his close-range shot over the crossbar.

With two minutes remaining in the first half, Carlos Salcido launched a chip pass into the penalty area. Guzan collided with Jesus Zavala as nothing came of the play.

Mexico will have to wait more than two months to accrue points as it will play its next two qualifiers on the road -- at Jamaica on June 4 and at Panama on June 7.

The United States next will visit Jamaica on June 7.

 
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