The work is hardly done for Mexico, but the longtime regional giant is in a much better place after Friday’s thrilling, pressure-packed 2-1 win over Panama at Azteca Stadium.
And what a way to win it, on Raul Jimenez’s spectacularly audacious bicycle kick in the 85th minute, an absolute show stopper that arrived not long after Panama’s Luis Tejada had equalized for the visitors.
Amazingly, it was Mexico’s first win at home in five matches of final round qualifying play in the region. The way it looks today: Mexico holds fourth place in the six-team CONCACAF final round group. That would put El Tri into a home-and-away playoff in November against New Zealand, with a spot in Brazil going to the winner.
There is still a chance for Mexico to pass Honduras and grab third, bypassing that white knuckle playoff series ahead. But as Honduras needs just a point Tuesday at already eliminated Jamaica to clinch the automatic berth that Mexico craves, no one should count on that.
Plus, there is also still a chance that Mexico loses at Costa Rica on Tuesday while Panama gets the result it needs to take the fourth spot, which would eliminate El Tri altogether; the Central Americans face Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. team on Tuesday in Panama City.
It wasn’t easy against Panama on Friday – then again, very little has come easily in the final round for Mexico. Remember, they had one loss, three draws and just one goal in four previous contests at Azteca in this round.
Oribe Peralta’s late first half goal was as well-taken – What a first touch to set up the shot! – but neither as historic or brilliant as Jimenez’s unbelievable, late effort.
Javier Hernandez had seen his tentative, second-half penalty kick saved (by LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo), adding to the drama of the night and keeping Panama in the fight.
Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.
Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.
[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]
A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.
The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:
The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.
The United States U-20 men are on the precipice of the U-20 World Cup after beating Mexico 1-0 on Monday, scooping their first win against El Tri in 31 years.
Brooks Lennon continues to look the part for the U.S. ahead of his loan season from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake.
[ MORE: Liverpool flops again ]
The youngster sent in this free kick that Erik Palmer-Brown, himself a loan man at Porto from Sporting KC this year, headed into the Mexico goal courtesy of a back post defender who opted for his right leg over a decent clearing attempt.
The U.S. took that lead into halftime.
Things got chippy as the second half unfolded, with referee Melvin Matamoros turning a blind eye to a few clattering tackles.
Tab Ramos subbed NYCFC prospect Jonathan Lewis into the match, and he sprung a counterattack that should have put the match to bed. But Lewis’ through ball missed FC Dallas’ Coy Craft and the latter took too much time, frittering away the chance.
Craig Shakespeare had a pretty strong opening bow as interim Leicester City boss, with the Foxes climbing out of the drop zone after a 3-1 defeat of Liverpool on Monday.
Now Leicester has to figure out, at least in the short-term, if Shakespeare is capable of more.
[ RECAP: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool ]
It’s not unusual for a club to respond to a manager change. Hull City was buoyed by some early season results and stuck with Mike Phelan in a move that didn’t work out well. Garry Monk was given the reigns of Swans soon after winning the South Wales Derby, and enjoyed a good reign in Swansea.
Here’s what Shakespeare had to say after Monday’s win, from the BBC. He sounds more Nigel Pearson than Claudio Ranieri.
“You could tell from the word go there was intensity and passion.
“All credit to the fans tonight. I think there was a worry in some quarters about how they would react but they were outstanding.
“The professionalism of the players has never been questioned by me. Having taken training with them, I know the criticism has hurt and perhaps there was a little more fire in the belly because of that.
“They know they are guilty of under performing but this is only one result and we must build on that.”
Leicester hosts Hull City next weekend, and then has 10 days before its UEFA Champions League second leg against Sevilla. Should Shakespeare be given the chance to make history?
A desperate Leicester City battered Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on Monday, leaving Reds boss Jurgen Klopp to question how his side lost to another relegation candidate.
That’s four teams in the Bottom Seven to beat the Reds this season, and the fifth is 11th place Burnley.
[ RECAP: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool ]
Klopp said he could explain the loss in German, but the challenge of doing it in English was proving difficult.
“The language issues always come a little bit more when you have to explain defeats and it’s really difficult to find the right words. It was not an over aggressive game from Leicester. Even for this level we were not physical enough today.”
Liverpool did look soft without midfielder Jordan Henderson, and did have multiple midfielders in the back line with Lucas Leiva at center back and James Milner on the right.
But moreover, the players failed to follow some of Klopp’s guidelines. For example, Christian Fuchs was able to launch several of his big throws into the 18. One helped Leicester to a goal.
“We gave throw-ins away like we never spoke about it. It does not make much sense to give away 20 throw-ins to Fuchs from that position.”
It wasn’t good enough, and it’s baffling to see Liverpool this season. A club that took four of six points from Chelsea has lost to a quartet of relegation battlers. This isn’t good.