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Mexico advances despite 1-0 defeat

Jones is a Times staff writer. He reported from Los Angeles.

Mexico scraped through to the final round of World Cup qualifying on Wednesday night despite a 1-0 loss in Honduras that is certain to put Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson under even closer scrutiny.

“El Tri” managed to make it through because it held the score down in rain-drenched San Pedro Sula and because Jamaica could not conjure up enough goals in Kingston, where it defeated Canada, 3-0.

Had Honduras and Jamaica won by a large enough combined margin, Mexico would have been eliminated. Instead, it slipped through on goal differential.

Eriksson has led Mexico to victory in all three home qualifying matches but has failed to win on the road, losing to Jamaica and Honduras and being tied by Canada.

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Discipline also seems to be a problem, with Mexico seeing defensive midfielder Gerardo Torrado and forward Carlos Vela red-carded in the final five minutes.

The game’s lone goal came seven minutes into the second half when Mexico defender Ricardo Osorio accidentally deflected the ball off the crossbar and into his own net after a corner kick.

Wednesday’s results meant that Mexico, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago advanced to 2009’s six-nation “hexagonal,” from which three teams are guaranteed a place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Trinidad and Tobago secured its place with a 3-0 victory over Cuba in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where veteran Dwight Yorke scored one of the goals. The result ended Guatemala’s chances of advancing.

Still, the Guatemalans put in a spirited performance against the U.S. in Commerce City, Colo., where second-half goals by Kenny Cooper and Freddy Adu -- his first international score -- earned the Americans a 2-0 win. The U.S., Costa Rica and El Salvador had previously earned their hexagonal places.

Eriksson said Mexico deserved better than to lose.

“Our attitude was right, but we didn’t win,” he said, later telling Mexican reporters that he was not contemplating resigning. “My wish is to take the team to the World Cup in South Africa.”

Bob Bradley, the U.S. coach, was pleased by the Americans’ bright effort on a cold night. The U.S. played attractive soccer, with Adu and Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan doing the creative work. Cooper’s goal came off a precise cross from Jozy Altidore, and Adu’s goal was scored on a perfectly placed free kick.

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Meanwhile, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the night went further awry for Mexican fans when Chivas de Guadalajara was routed, 4-0, by world champion Internacional and was eliminated in the semifinals of the Copa Sudamericana.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com


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