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United States 2 Mexico 3 (aet): Aguilar wonder strike sends Mexicans to Confederations Cup

Paul Aguilar struck with two minutes remaining in extra time as Mexico overcame United States 3-2 to book their spot at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Penalties looked likely after Bobby Wood and Oribe Peralta exchanged goals in either half of extra time in California on Saturday.

But Aguilar popped up with a memorable volley from an acute angle in the 118th minute at Rose Bowl as Mexico claimed the winner-takes-all CONCACAF Cup play-off and a trip to Russia two years from now.

Mexico were a class above throughout the fixture – a contest between the winners of the two Gold Cups prior to the Confederations Cup – and the 2015 Gold Cup champions took the lead in the 10th minute.

After a frenetic start to proceedings, Javier Hernandez combined with Peralta and scuffed his shot past USA goalkeeper Guzan for his 42nd international goal.

USA eventually found their feet and levelled the match within five minutes.

A teasing free-kick across the six-yard box from Michael Bradley picked out defender Geoff Cameron, who headed powerfully past Moises Munoz.

Bradley was at the centre of all USA’s plays throughout the first half, and the Toronto FC star came close on two occasions to put the hosts ahead.

The 28-year-old made a streaking run through midfield in the 32nd minute, drifting past two defenders but fluffed his shot wide of the post, before forcing Munoz into a scrambling low save on the stroke of half-time.

It was more of the same early in the second half as Mexico settled quickest.

Guzan was quick off his line to deny Raul Jimenez from close range two minutes after the break.

Mexico continued to press USA back into their own third and went within a whisker of taking the lead just shy of the hour-mark, when Hernandez failed to make clean contact with the ball as he attempted a back heel inside the six-yard box.

USA, though, held firm as the match headed into extra time after Mexico’s cries for handball on Matt Besler and a penalty were ignored during the closing stages of regulation.

Visibly tired, USA were caught napping early in the additional period, though Guzan was on hand to deny Peralta in the 93rd minute.

Peralta was not to be denied three minutes later, however, controlling the ball inside the box and firing low past Guzan.

But just as USA appeared to be out on their feet, second-half substitute Wood guided the ball through the legs of the advancing Munoz in the 108th minute.

In another twist, however, Aguilar produced a world-class strike inside the final two minutes before penalties to send Mexico to Russia.

Sun 11 Oct, 2015
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