Mexico booked their ticket to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, defeating the U.S. National Team 3-2 in a thrilling, pulsating match before 93,723 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
The early moments featured jittery play from both sides as a wall of noise from the sold out atmosphere provided plenty of emotion for the fans and players alike.
Then, Mexico went ahead early. In the 10th minute, a clever back heel from Oribe Peralta to Paul Aguilar unglued the U.S. defense, and Aguilar squared to Javier "Chicarito" Hernandez centrally for a simple finish.
Things looked grim with Mexico starting off bright and confident in attack, but the Americans were right back in the game when Geoff Cameron lost Rafa Marquez and steered a header off a Michael Bradley free kick into the left side of the net.
PSV Eindoven playmaker Andres Guardado managed to locate Chicarito at the far post, but the pass was a hair too long and the Bayer Levukusen striker could only agonizingly slice at the cross.
After sustained pressure, the US almost stole a second when Clint Dempsey slid in Michael Bradley on the run, but after running into the area, he pulled a left footed shot wide.
On the other side of the field, DaMarcus Beasley did well to block a Chicarito attempt, then a major fracas occurred when Oribe Peralta slid into Brad Guzan after the play had been ruled offsides and a shoving match between both team ensued.
In the 40th, Gyasi Zardes played a low bouncing cross that Jozy Altidore won but placed over the bar, then
right before the half, Altidore won a dangerous free kick after turning Hector Moreno just outside the box, and on the restart, Bradley's shot was destined for the bottom left corner, requiring goalkeeper Moises Munoz to dive low to palm the shot away.
The second half began the same as the first: All Mexico. El Tri generated plenty of chances, notably in the 59th minute when Chicarito whiffed an open chance in front of net. However, Mexico could not find a winner and the game went to extra time.
With the U.S. defense pinned back all game long and the Americans fatigued, it felt inevitable that Mexico would find a goal, and in the 96th minute, Peralta latched onto the end of a Paul Aguilar pass to fire a low shot past Geoff Cameron's legs and in to claim the lead.
But just when you thought the U.S. was dead, substitute DeAndre Yedlin made a positive run forward and slipped in a ball for fellow substitute Bobby Wood, and Wood did brilliantly to cut a low shot between the legs of Munoz to tie the match.
However, Mexico would not be denied, and with the game about to head to penalty kicks, Aguilar empathetically volleyed a looping ball home to give Mexico the 3-2 victory in a classic match.