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World Cup Qualifiers: US, Argentina seal berth

September 11, 2013 09:28 IST

World Cup Qualifiers: US, Argentina seal berth

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The United States qualified for the World Cup finals in Brazil after second half goals from Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan gave them a 2-0 home win over Mexico on Tuesday.

With Honduras drawing 2-2 with Panama and Costa Rica held to a 1-1 draw in Jamaica, the Americans stand on top of the CONCACAF standings on 16 points with two games remaining.

Costa Rica, who also qualified on Tuesday, are on 15 points with Honduras on 11 points still fighting for the third automatic qualification spot.

The defeat leaves Mexico deep in trouble though -- they are in fifth place, level on eight points with fourth-placed Panama and with only a slim chance of making third place.

'El Tri', who started qualification as clear favourites to top the group, still have plenty of work ahead to even get the fourth spot and get a shot at Brazil via a playoff with Oceania winners New Zealand.


Image: Goalkeeper Tim Howard of the United States celebrates his team's 2-0 win over Mexico
Photographs: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

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'It's a huge milestone whenever you make it to the World Cup'

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The Americans had to wait for almost an hour after the game to know their spot in Brazil was secure -- needing Honduras to pick up at least a point.

While players sat in the changing room watching the late game on television, hundreds of fans stayed in the stadium hoping to celebrate qualification and were rewarded with the US team returning to the field to complete a lap of honour.

"This is a huge achievement for all of us," coach Juergen Klinsmann told reporters.

"We can all be extremely proud of this team who gave everything. It's a huge milestone whenever you make it to the World Cup, the biggest competition in this sport, especially hosted in Brazil, one of the biggest soccer nations.

"It means a lot to all of us. To our fans and to this country as well," said the German, who took charge of the team in 2011.

For Mexico, the defeat to their biggest rival was a painful one on several levels.


Image: Eddie Johnson of the United States heads the ball past Diego Reyes of the Mexico
Photographs: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

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Argentina crush Paraguay 5-2

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Lionel Messi converted two penalties as Argentina romped to a 5-2 away win over Paraguay to book their ticket to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil on Tuesday.

Argentina lead the South American group on 29 points with two qualifiers remaining next month. The top four qualify automatically and Argentina can now only be overtaken by Colombia and Chile.

Captain Messi put Argentina ahead in the 12th minute from the spot only for Jose Nunez to equalised six minutes later for Paraguay. Striker Sergio Aguero gave Argentina the crucial 2-1 halftime lead.

Winger Angel Di Maria, Messi with his second penalty and substitute Maxi Rodriguez boosted the scoreline with veteran Roque Santa Cruz pulling one back for Paraguay near the end.


Image: Argentina's Lionel Messi (left) controls the ball next to Paraguay's Salustiano Candia
Photographs: Mario Valdez/Reuters

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