[HEXAGONAL: Matchday 9] Four minutes after Mexico conceded a tying goal that threatened to leave it without a win at Azteca Stadium in the Hexagonal and on the brink of collapse, sub Raul Jimenez scored on a spectacular bicycle kick to give El Tri a 2-1 win over Panama that moved it closer to at least qualifying for next month's intercontinental playoffs.
Honduras remained in third place with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on a goal by the New England Revolution's Jerry Bengtson.
Jimenez scored with a chilena two minutes after he entered the game in the 83rd minute -- two minutes after Panama had taken advantage of a horrible giveaway by Mexico defender Ruben Ayala and tied the score on a goal by Luis Tejeda, who had beaten the late-chargingGuillermo Ochoa to the ball.
Jimenez, who plays at Azteca Stadium for Club America, was left all alone at the top of the penalty area and could not have asked for a better pass from Fernando Arce, another sub, but he said he had badly controlled the ball, which required him to try the bike that glanced off the post and into the goal.
Mexico once again struggled at home in the final third but went ahead in the 41st minute when Javier Hernandez and Uribe Peralta played a one-two and Chicharito lobbed the ball to Peralta, the 2012 Olympic gold-medal hero who fired the ball into the far side past the charging keeper Jaime Penedo.
Mexico could have gone ahead 2-0 when Harold Cummings was called for a foul on Javier Aquino in the area, but Penedo, the LA Galaxy keeper, stopped Chicharito's weak effort.
Mexico, which went into the game trailing Panama on goals scored, now leads the Canaleros by three points.
Honduras stayed three points ahead of Mexico thanks to its win at San Pedro Sula over Costa Rica, which had already clinched a berth in the World Cup finals.
The Catrachos would have clnched third place if the Mexico-Panama game had ended in a tie.
Third-Place Scanarios (automatic berth):
-- Honduras qualifies for the World Cup if it beats or ties Jamaica in Kingston, or if it loses to Jamaica and Mexico beats Costa Rica away by a combination of less than three goals.
-- Mexico qualifies for the World Cup if it beats Costa Rica away and Honduras loses at Jamaica by a combination of three or more goals.
Fourth-Place Scenarios (playoff against New Zealand):
-- Honduras takes fourth place if Mexico takes third place.
-- If Honduras takes third place, Mexico takes fourth place if it beats or ties Costa Rica or the USA beats ot ties Panama in Panama City.
-- Panama takes fourth place if it beats the USA and Mexico loses to Costa Rica.
(A Panama win and Mexico loss will leave them tied on points. Panama will take fourth place in every scenario except one-goal games in which Mexico scores three more goals than Panama scores. Example: 4-3 Mexico loss and 1-0 Panama win.)
USA 2 Jamaica 0
Mexico 2 Panama 1
Honduras 1 Costa Rica 0
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
19 USA 6-1-2 12/6
15 Costa Rica 4-3-2 12/7
14 Honduras 4-2-3 11/10
11 Mexico 2-5-2 6/7
8 Panama 1-5-3 8/11
4 Jamaica 0-4-5 3/11