Mexico kept its World Cup qualifying hopes alive with the game-winning goal provided by Raul Jimenez on an amazing bicycle kick in a 2-1 victory over Panama on Friday night in Mexico City.
Jimenez entered the game in the 83rd minute and two minutes later took a pass from Fernando Arce just above the 18-yard box with his back to the goal. He quickly flipped the ball into the air in front of him and elevated for the bicycle kick, which rocketed past flat-footed Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
"My initial intention was to hit it low, but then I had to improvise going in the air,” Jimenez said. “It was a last-resort type of thing.”
The victory left Mexico in fourth place the in CONCACAF standings, three points ahead of Panama and three points behind third-placed Honduras with one game to play. The top three in qualifying advance to Brazil next summer, while the fourth-place team will play New Zealand for a spot in the World Cup.
The United States clinched top top qualifying spot with a 2-0 victory over winless Jamaica on Friday night and Costa Rica will finish second despite a 1-0 loss to Honduras.
Mexico opened the scoring five minutes before halftime when Oribe Peralta scored off a pass from Javier Hernandez. Panama tied the score, 1-1, when Luis Tejada ran onto a pass behind the Mexico defense and slid a shot past goalie Guillermo Ochoa in the 81st minute to set up Jimenez's heroics.
“What a spectacular goal, really beautiful and above all very emotional,” said Victor Manuel Vucetich, serving his first game as Mexico's coach.