Marquez, Mexico hand U.S. 1st World Cup qualifying home loss in 15 years

Rafa Marquez scored a tiebreaking goal on a header in the 89th minute, giving Mexico a 2-1 win Friday night and its first victory at the United States in World Cup qualifying since 1972.

Miguel Layun put Mexico ahead in the 20th minute in the opener of the final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean, but Bobby Wood tied the score in the 49th.

The U.S. dominated the second half before the 37-year-old Marquez, unmarked and drifting across the penalty area at the near post, got the back of his head on Layun’s corner kick. The Mexican captain lifted the ball over goalkeeper Brad Guzan for his 17th international goal.

“It gets a sense of anger in us. It gets a sense of absolutely urgency,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “It’s not a problem, but it’s obviously disappointing.”

The U.S. had beaten Mexico four straight times by 2-0 scores in home qualifiers — all at Columbus — and Marquez had gotten two yellow cards and a red in those matches. The Americans had been 30-0-2 at home in qualifying since a 3-2 loss to Honduras at Washington’s RFK Stadium in September 2001.

Mexico’s previous win at the U.S. in qualifying was also by a 2-1 score, at Los Angeles.

“I think we deserved this match,” Layun said. “We were focused.”

Klinsmann said John Brooks was supposed to mark Marquez on the corner kick,

“We lost him there. Individual mistake,” Klinsmann said.

Guzan had lost the U.S. goalkeeper job to Tim Howard, who started at the last two World Cups. But Howard pulled a muscle in his right leg on a goal kick and was replaced in the 40th minute.

Dos a cero, no more

The Americans play Tuesday at Costa Rica, where it has never won in qualifying, in the second of its 10 games in the round, and Klinsmann said Howard likely will miss the match. Mexico hosts Panama.

The top three teams in the six-nation round qualify for the World Cup, and the fourth-place country advances to a playoff.

A pro-American crowd of 24,650 chanted “Dos a cero!” at the start, but Mexican supporters yelled “Dos a uno!” as they left.

Mexico went ahead after Bradley and Giovani dos Santos battled for the ball 30 yards out. The ball skipped to Layun, who took a touch, and his right-footed shot deflected off Timmy Chandler and in to Howard’s left for his fourth international goal in 46 appearances,

Wood tied the score after John Brooks forced a turnover. Jozy Altidore turned his defender and passed to Wood, who took two touches as he split defenders. His eight-yard, left-footed shot deflected off a leg of Layun for his eighth goal in 28 international appearances. Wood also scored against Mexico last fall during an extra-time loss in the playoff for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Altidore and Wood have combined for seven goals in 11 games they’ve started together.

Pogba, Forsberg give France lead 

While in Europe, Paul Pogba headed in the equalizer in France’s 2-1 win against Sweden in the only Group A match on Friday. The Manchester United midfielder headed in off the crossbar in the 58th minute, shortly after Emil Forsberg had punished a sloppy period of French play with a deflected free kick that wrong-footed goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

France winger Dimitri Payet, who set up Pogba’s goal with one of his pinpoint free kicks from the left, slotted home the winner in the 65th after a handling error from goalkeeper Robin Olsen when under pressure from forward Antoine Griezmann.

Gnabry’s brilliant German debut

In group C, Serge Gnabry scored a hat trick in his debut for Germany as the World Cup champion overwhelmed San Marino 8-0 on Friday in a qualifier for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

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Serge Gnabry of Germany takes a shot against San Marino during World Cup qualifying action on Friday in San Marino. ( Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Defender Jonas Hector added two goals as Joachim Loew won a record 95th match as Germany coach.

Northern Ireland breezed past Azerbaijan 4-0 to jump into second place, five points behind the Germans. The Czech Republic notched its first win by beating Norway 2-1. Azerbaijan also has seven points, the Czechs five and Norway three.

Lewandowski gets fired up 

Poland’s star striker Robert Lewandowski needed medical attention in the second half as he collapsed after a flare thrown in the 55th minute. The referee temporarily stopped the match and Lewandowski returned to the game several minutes later — and scored twice in Poland’s 3-0 win against Romania.

Lewandowski netted in the 82nd minute to double the Polish lead from inside the box and added his second in stoppage time from the spot. It was the ninth consecutive qualifier in which he had scored.

Poland jumped to the sole lead of the group with 10 points, three more than Montenegro, which lost at Armenia 3-2 after wasting a 2-0 lead.

Denmark has six points after beating Kazakhstan 4-1, while Romania is another point behind. Armenia has three points, one more than Kazakhstan at the bottom.

Historic Rivals clash in Group F

England’s 3-0 result against Scotland appeared far more convincing than its actual performance in the 113th meeting of international football’s oldest rivals.

England has 10 points. Slovenia is second on eight points after winning 1-0 at bottom-placed Malta, and Slovakia is third after beating Lithuania 4-0.

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CBC | Soccer News