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Costa Rica stun Mexico in World Cup qualifier

© Reuters Limited

Costa Rica's Carlos Castro celebrates his team's victory over Mexico.
Photo Andrew Winning, Reuters
Costa Rica stunned Mexico when they came from to behind to win 2-1 at the usually impregnable Azteca stadium in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Veteran Hernan Medford, who played in Italy 11 years ago when Costa Rica made their only World Cup finals appearance, scored the winner in the 87th minute when he snapped up a rebound.

It was Mexico's first-ever World Cup defeat in 52 matches at the Azteca stadium. Jose Abundis gave Mexico an early lead but Costa Rica took control and Rolando Fonseca equalised from a brilliant free kick in the second half.

The defeat left Mexico struggling in the final round of the CONCACAF qualifying competition with four points from four games and is likely to cost coach Enrique Meza his job.

Mexico's defender Claudio Suarez (L) looks over as Costa Roca's Pablo Wanchope beats him to the ball during their World Cup qualifier at Mexico City's Azteca stadium June 16, 2001.
Photo Henry Romero, Reuters
Meza was already under pressure after his team lost all three games at the Confederations Cup at the start of the month and crashed to a 4-0 defeat against England in a friendly.

Costa Rica have seven points from four games.

Curiously, the opening exchanges threatened to produce a Mexican goal feast. Striker Jose Abundis beat Gilberto Martinez to a corner to head in the opener after seven minutes and the Mexicans created two good chances to score again immediately afterwards against an extremly shaky visiting defence.

Costa Rica quickly pulled themselves together and nearly equalised in the 11th minute when Paolo Cesar Wanchope turned and hit a low shot against the post from 25 metres. One minute later, Mexico's Victor Ruiz hit the post from a free kick.

Costa Rica took control of the midfield but much of the game was played at walking pace as the baking midday sun and the high altitude seemed to affect the Mexicans as much as the visitors. The visitors continued to dominate after the break, with Steven Bryce and Wanchope both missing good chances to equalise.

They were finally rewarded in the 73rd minute when Fonseca curled a majestic free kick over the wall and into the top corner of the goal from 25 metres to level the score.

Medford then silenced the crowd when he scored after Osvaldo Sanchez could only parry a long-range shot from Willian Sunsing.

Costa Rica goalkeeper Erick Lonnis guaranteed an historic win when he tipped over a long-range shot in the final minute.


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