Jorge Sanchez scored in the first half for Mexico before Jonathan Osorio equalized, dropping Mexico to second place on goal difference in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying following a 1-1 draw against Canada in Mexico City.
The United States and Mexico currently have eight points after four games, but the Americans, who beat Jamaica 2-0 earlier in the evening, have a superior scoring record that means El Tri will now cede first place in the final round on the road to Qatar 2022.
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Mexico played its first game at the Estadio Azteca with fans in the stands after nearly two years. Since beating Panama by a score of 3-1 on Oct. 15, 2019, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with disciplinary measures for fan behavior, kept El Tri away from the crowd at its legendary home ground.
Stars like Raul Jimenez, Hirving Lozano and Hector Herrera were back in tow after missing September’s games. Jimenez and Lozano were held out after travel bans were imposed in England and Italy due to the pandemic, while Herrera recovered from an injury.
Despite the returning star power, Mexico manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino surprised fans by allowing Canada to dictate the game’s rhythm early on. Mexico relied mostly on counter-attacks to generate offense, using speedy players like Lozano and Jesus Corona on the wings to stretch the Canadian defense.
On one of these breaks, Lozano found wingback Sanchez in the box with a cross. Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau rushed out to meet Sanchez, but the Club America player coolly finished to open scoring.
It was Sanchez’s first international goal with Mexico’s senior team. To boot, the defender had only scored one domestic league goal since December of 2018.
Canada quickly reacted, taking advantage of Mexico’s willingness to drop back by generating several chances after that. Ten minutes after Sanchez scored, Alphonso Davies missed a sitter after a pass found him in the six-yard box.
However, Davies made up for his howler later on, finding Jonathan Osorio wide open in the box just three minutes before the end of the first half. Taking advantage, Osorio turned and slotted a low shot past Ochoa to tie the game.
At the end of the first half, Mexico had only held a 49% share of possession, a rarity in the Martino era.
Despite a strong start to the second half from the home team, which included a Raul Jimenez header to the crossbar, Mexico was unable to once again move in front. A brief stoppage in play after fans engaged in the anti-gay chant helped curb El Tri’s rhythm.
Canada obtained its first ever World Cup qualifying draw at the Estadio Azteca. Mexico had not dropped points at home since a 1-1 draw against the United States on June 11, 2017.
Mexico will host Honduras at the Estadio Azteca on Sunday, while Canada will travel to play Jamaica the same day.