MEXICO CITY Miguel Sabah scored in the 82nd minute, lifting Mexico to a 2-1 victory over the United States in a World Cup qualifier today.
The win strengthened Mexico's chances of reaching next year's World Cup in South Africa. The Mexicans entered the game fourth in CONCACAF qualifying, with only the top three teams automatically advancing. Mexico now has nine points, moving ahead of Honduras (7), which played later today at group leader Costa Rica (12).
Sabah, a substitute, was all alone in front of the net when he took a feed from Efrain Juarez and beat goalkeeper Tim Howard, bringing Mexico's home record against the Americans to 23-0-1.
The United States entered the game second in qualifying behind Costa Rica with 10 points and took its first lead at Azteca on Charlie Davies' goal in the 9th minute off a brilliant pass from Landon Donovan.
Israel Castro tied it 10 minutes later with a wicked shot just under the crossbar from 27 yards on which Howard leaped but had no chance of stopping.
That energized the crowd, which understood how damaging a home loss would be, particularly after Mexico won the Gold Cup last month using many of the same players. But the U.S. team the Mexicans routed 5-0 in the final was a lesser squad than the one on the field at Azteca.
Still, no U.S. squads win in Mexico, and Sabah made sure that long string of futility continued.
Three American defenders Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra drew yellow cards in a game that became increasingly physical. Onyewu carried a yellow into the match, meaning he will miss the next qualifier on Sept. 5 against El Salvador in Sandy, Utah.