Mexico remains on pace to set best World Cup qualifying run

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YURI CORTEZ
After falling behind early on, El Tri rallied for an easy win over Trinidad and Tobago to pick up another three points in the CONCACAF tournament

SAN LUIS POTOSI, Mexico —First they threw their cups in frustration, then they filled the air in celebration. Then, twice more they were aloft in joy as fans here celebrated a 3-1 Mexico victory over Trinidad and Tobago.

After Shahdon Winchester’s goal that looked like it would condemn Mexico to its first defeat of the Hex, the No. 9 and his celebrating teammates were treated to an unwanted shower from fans in the end of the Estadio Alfonso Lastras. Many in the other stands of the stadium applauded the Soca Warriors’ goal, as if to show they didn’t approve of their fellow fans’ actions. When Hirving Lozano scored with a dozen minutes left to play, no section was spared with the crowd celebrating in its peculiar way by lofting whatever beverage was at hand into the air to celebrate.

There were cups in the air again as Chicharito headed in the go-ahead goal late, nudging the ball past Adrian Foncette on a rebound.

It is a credit to the fine beer vendors of San Luis Potosi that there was anything left for fans to throw after Hector Herrera’s stoppage-time free kick. Nevertheless, there was plenty of flying fluid as it became clear that the citizens of San Luis Potosi would see their team earn three points in their first match here since 2007.

"The game was a bit complicated, but I think we reacted and the team looked really good," Lozano said. "We had a lot of chances to score, and thanks to God we scored the last three. That's how soccer goes. They had a chance and they scored it, we had a lot and we scored three."

The trio of goals were worth cheering, but the earlier performance had left Mexico fans with little to celebrate. Hopes of the best-ever Hex finish remain, and a win in Honduras will secure the top spot in the round and surpass El Tri’s best-ever finish in the final round of World Cup qualification.

The team will need to show improvement to make that happen. This was a typical CONCACAF game, with Mexico keeping the ball and finding chances but failing to find the back of the net. The visitors caught Mexico out on a few occasions, one of them resulting in the game’s opening strike. Honduras knows this script and knows it better than Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio had looked to attack the right side of Trinidad’s defense and while opportunities were forthcoming, finding the final moment again was beyond Mexico in the opening hour.

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"It's become something we've discussed and mentioned in previous news conferences, tha the team has consistency, is efficient in getting into the final through but we're lacking finishing above all in trying to finsih off our opportunities to score on the first try," Osorio said after the contest.

Staying unbeaten is a plus, and ultimately what Mexico does in future months is of far more importance than what happened Friday. But there has to be a few blushes among Mexico’s players after they needed a furious late effort to get past the Caribbean side. After all, this group was the best of the best, truly the best group the country has to offer. They were matched up against a Trinidad and Tobago team focusing on the future, looking to 2022 not 2018 as Mexico is.

Still, the fans stayed after for several rounds of chants in support of the national team as the team bid farewell to its home country. Then they filled out of the stadium, in search of a drink they’d finish.

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