Classy U.S. players console a heartbroken Panamanian.
What took place last night in San José, Costa Rica, and Panama City, will go down in history as one of the most unbelievable, nail-biting World Cup qualification matches ever.
Mexico was losing to Costa Rica 2-1 and was barely hanging on for a playoff spot against New Zealand, because the Panama-USA game was tied 1-1; USA had already qualified to the Brazil 2014 World Cup, but the Panamanians needed a win to take the playoff berth away from Mexico, which was being dominated by the ticos under a pouring rain. Both games were being played simultaneously, and when Panama’s Luis Tejada scored in the 83rd minute (with only seven minutes left in regulation time), Mexico’s doom seemed a done deal.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
The U.S.A.’s Graham Zusi tied the game 1:24 into stoppage time, giving new life to Mexico and causing massive heart attacks throughout Panama. A minute later, stunned Panama saw its World Cup hopes definitely evaporate when Aaron Johannsson scored again. Mexico was back in contention, thanks to the team least likely to help their cause: arch-rivals USA. It was an amazing display of professionalism by the U.S. team, while Panama showed an alarming inability to close a game they had in their pocket.
Argentina's Olé (a daily sports newspaper) wrote "Mexico wins the lottery" on a headline. The Mexican press, highly critical of their own team throughout the qualification matches, made it perfectly clear: the U.S., not Mexico, deserved all the credit for Mexico still being alive. But no one was more vocal than TV Azteca's Christian Martinoli. He absolutely went berserk in celebrating USA’s goal while lambasting Mexico for the way they sucked on the field.
“We love you forever and ever! God Bless America!!” said Martinoli, in English, before switching back to Spanish. “USA! They’re the ones, not the ones in green! They did it!" Then, talking directly to the Mexican team, Martinoli continued: "Make it perfectly clear throughout your life! You don’t do anything for the jersey! You’re not putting us in the World Cup! You’re not keeping us alive! It is the United States! Not you! Not you and your vanity! Not you an your infamy! Not you and your pyrotechnics!”
“We don’t deserve it,” added the commentator, former Mexican international Luis García. “A dignified USA team without many of its usual starters again showed us how they understand the game. Mexico was horrendous, horrible, Dantesque! A total failure.”
Then, USA scored the second goal, and Martinoli went nuts again.
“Yeah, let us keep criticizing the USA!” he said. “Let’s face it: The USA surpassed us ages ago. USA is better than us! They can play with a second team and put us in the World Cup!”
The original video I posted was blocked by TV Azteca on copyright grounds, but we found another clip of those unforgettable last minutes. Watch it before they block it again.