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US, Mexico earn Qatar World Cup berths

The United States and Mexico have both booked tickets to this year’s World Cup in Qatar in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The US, who missed out on the 2018 tournament, lost 2-0 to Costa Rica but progressed along with the Mexicans, who beat El Salvador 2-0, and the already qualified Canada.

Costa Rica finished fourth in the standings and will face New Zealand in an intercontinental qualifier in Qatar in June for another spot at the finals.

The US are returning to the World Cup after the trauma of missing the 2018 tournament.

Juan Pablo Vargas got behind Walker Zimmerman and headed Brandon Aguilera’s corner kick past goalkeeper Zack Steffen in the 51st minute, and Anthony Contreras knocked in a cross off a scramble in the 59th after Steffen couldn’t hold onto a free kick.

A sellout crowd of about 35,000 in National Stadium in Costa Rica came to life, but the Americans’ 5-1 rout of Panama at home last weekend gave them a huge goal-difference margin over Costa Rica.

That meant the US merely had to avoid losing by six goals or more in order to claim an automatic berth by finishing among the top three nations in North and Central America and Caribbean.

In Mexico City, goals from Uriel Antuna and Raul Jimenez were enough for Tata Martino’s side with Mexico now securing their eighth consecutive qualification.

It was a dominant opening and Mexico were able to capitalise early to dispel any growing anxiety.

Antuna opened the scoring in the 17th minute, dispatching the rebound after Nestor Araujo’s powerful header from an Alexis Vega corner.

Running onto a ball behind the defence, Antuna then won his team a penalty in the 42nd minute.

To essentially put the game beyond El Salvador’s reach and secure his team’s place in Qatar, Raul Jimenez calmly converted from the spot, sending Mario Gonzalez the wrong way.

Canada, who clinched their first World Cup trip since 1986 with a win Sunday, finished first with 28 points after a 1-0 loss at Panama, ahead of Mexico on goal difference.

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