Jared Borgetti pushed Mexico to the verge of the 2006 World Cup on Wednesday with a record 36th career goal for the national team as it downed Costa Rica, 2-0, at Mexico City.
Borgetti slammed home a shot from the corner of the goal box in the 62nd minute on a ball that had eluded a string of other players.
Francisco Fonseca had another goal in the 85th minute when Costa Rican goalkeeper Jose Francisco Porras bobbled a shot from midfield by Ramon Morales.
The victory at Azteca Stadium kept Mexico a point ahead of the United States at the top of the CONCACAF region. The U.S. beat Trinidad and Tobago, 1-0.
The leaders, virtually assured of a trip to the World Cup in Germany next summer, meet Sept. 3 in Columbus, Ohio.
Mexico missed several other scoring chances against the tiring Costa Ricans in the second half, but it dominated from the start, coming inches from a goal in the 10th minute when Borgetti took a pass from Pavel Pardo and hit the crossbar from eight yards.
Costa Rica's Porras saved a Borgetti header in the 26th minute.
Despite the loss, Costa Rica has a shot at qualifying. Its seven points are as good as any team behind the United States and Mexico.
Gonzalo Romero scored in second-half injury time as Guatemala fought back to earn a 2-1 victory over Panama at Guatemala City to keep its qualifying hopes alive.
Panama's Jorge Dely Valdes opened the scoring after 17 minutes on a pass from Luis Moreno.
Former Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz scored for Guatemala in the 67th minute to tie it.
The victory gave Guatemala seven points and a tie for third place with Costa Rica.
In selected European qualifying games: Host Liechtenstein held Slovakia to a 0-0 tie at Vaduz, keeping the Slovaks from joining Portugal at the top of Group 3. Portugal leads Group 3 with 20 points, followed by Slovakia with 17.... Russia came back to earn a 1-1 road tie at Latvia, a result that didn't help either team's chances of reaching next year's World Cup. The tie at Riga left Russia in third place in Group 3 with 15 points.... Adrian Mutu scored two goals to give host Romania a 2-0 win over Andorra at Constanta. Romania is in third place in Group 1.
In an Asian qualifying game: Substitute Anvarjon Soliev scored the winning goal in the 76th minute, helping host Uzbekistan come back to beat Kuwait, 3-2, at Tashkent to advance to a playoff. Uzbekistan will play Bahrain in a two-leg playoff with the winner moving on to face the fourth-place team from CONCACAF for a spot in Germany 2006.
In selected international friendlies: England conceded four second-half goals to lose, 4-1, to host Denmark at Copenhagen for its worst defeat in 25 years. Dennis Rommedahl and Jon Dahl Tomasson scored before Michael Gravgaard marked his debut in the 67th minute to complete a burst of three goals in seven minutes. "I am very sorry and angry about the second half. That was a disaster," England Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said.
Ricardinho scored from a free kick outside the box to help Brazil earn a 1-1 draw with Croatia at Split. Midfielder Niko Kranjcar put Croatia ahead in the 32nd minute.... Substitute Gerald Asamoah scored the equalizer in the 81st minute to help visiting Germany come back from two goals down and hold the Netherlands to a 2-2 tie at Rotterdam. Arjen Robben scored two goals for the hosts. Michael Ballack also scored for Germany.
Zinedine Zidane scored a goal in his first match since coming back from international retirement, leading host France over Ivory Coast, 3-0, at Montpellier. William Gallas and Thierry Henry scored the other goals.... Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Gilardino scored for visiting Italy in a 2-1 win over Ireland at Dublin.... Pablo Garcia scored an own-goal and Vicente Rodriguez had a penalty kick in the first half to give host Spain a 2-0 victory over Uruguay at Gijon.