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Mexico qualify for Copa América after controversial last-minute goal and penalty shoot-out vs. Honduras

Mexico was the last Concacaf nation of four to qualify to next year’s Copa America this week and all after defeating Honduras in one of the craziest and controversial matches we’ve seen this year thus far. This game had everything.

Mexico complete Azteca-comeback vs. Honduras and qualify for Copa America

El Tri is in.

Mexico came into Tuesday night’s match against Honduras forced to score a minimum of two goals to keep their direct-qualification-dreams to next year’s Copa America alive after having a horrible first-legged Nations League quaterfinal performance against “La H” in their 2-0 loss in Tegucigalpa last Friday.

The Azteca gods-of-the comebacks had a full mailbox of prayers over the weekend.

Despite the horrendous display from Jaime Lozano’s men last week, El Tri realized what was at stake and showed their will to get the tie back into their favor from the first minute forward in the second leg.

After perhaps a null possession and participation from Honduras in the Azteca in the first 20 minutes, Mexico had the game in the palm of their hand, though without much success (and a couple of scary opportunities for the visitors).

It wasn’t until the 40th minute when free-kick specialist Luis Chávez set up the ball and cracked the score open with a fantastic goal from set-piece. 1-0 up before the half.

Let’s not forget he also scored one of the best goals of last year’s World Cup via free-kick against Saudi Arabia.

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In the second half, Mexico remained in “La H’s" half, but failed to finish a handful of clear opportunities at goal. By "Mexico", we mean newest naturalized player Julián Quiñones.


Time kept slipping, El Tri kept missing and the opportunities, along with the chance of directly qualifying for the Copa America, started to fade away.

However, Mexican captain Edson Álvarez — playing in his former boyhood club stadium — found a rebound inside the 18 in the last minute of the game (and one minute over the nine minutes of added time) to send the game into a euphoric extra-time. El Coloso’s roar was inmense.

El Machín saved Mexico and sent them to play an extra 30 minutes that would eventually spill into a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner.

In the shoot-out, backup goalkeeper to Guillermo Ochoa (injured during the first leg), Luis Ángel Malagón, made the heroic save in Honduras' first attempt, giving El Tri the lead after a succesful first penalty kick.

Mexico’s Chino Huerta retakes penalty... THREE TIMES in shoot-out vs. Honduras!

Rightfully so… right? Right?

Mexico’s fourth penalty taker, César Huerta, had perhaps one of the most unorthodox and controversial sequences before successfully scoring a penalty.

After missing his first attempt, the officiating recalled the attempt and replayed the penalty after Honduras’ goalkeeper clearly stepped off their line before impact of the ball. 

On the second attempt, Huerta’s shot was once again saved by Edrick Menjívar, turning the young player’s night into an absolute nightmare.

To a shocking surprise, and after clearly stepping off his line again, Huerta was called up to take his third penalty kick. The famous saying, “la tercera es la vencida” or “third time’s the charm,” played in El Chino’s favor for his penalty-kick-attempt-trifecta.

The Pumas player's successful kick — followed by Honduras’ fourth and final off-target penalty — sent Mexico in next year’s Nations League Final Four and the Copa América.

Mexico vs. Honduras second-leg highlights

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