FOOTBALL NEWS

16/10/2013 06:34, Report by Adam Bostock

Chicharito's last chance

Javier Hernandez's Mexico have been given one more opportunity to qualify for next summer's World Cup finals - but Antonio Valencia and Angelo Henriquez's countries are already through.

While the latter pair's Ecuador and Chile claimed automatic places from the South American qualifying group, Chicharito's national team slipped into CONCACAF's play-off berth after losing 2-1 away to Costa Rica. The United striker started the match and played for an hour, being substituted moments before Mexico conceded the winning goal to Alvaro Saborio.

The Mexicans will now face New Zealand next month in a two-legged intercontinental tie - but they would have been eliminated altogether had a result elsewhere not dramatically swung their way. Qualifying rivals Panama were beating USA as their home match headed into injury time but then two goals from Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson claimed a stunning 3-2 victory for the Americans.

There were no such dramas for Antonio Valencia, despite Ecuador losing their final qualifying match away to Chile 2-1. The United winger played the full 90 minutes in Santiago and although he picked up a yellow card, confirmation that his country had still qualified ahead of Uruguay on goal difference made it a special night for all concerned. The Ecuador players and their coach Reinaldo Rueda dedicated their success to Christian Benitez, their 27 year-old colleague who died of heart failure in July.

Angelo Henriquez did not feature in the victory for Chile, but the Reds striker - currently on loan to Real Zaragoza - will be hopeful of winning a place in their squad for Brazil 2014.

More: Rooney helps England qualify | Zaha stars for England Under-21s

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