BUENOS AIRES - The United States and Trinidad & Tobago snatched dramatic late draws in their CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on Saturday while Mexico lifted the pressure on coach Sven-Goran Eriksson by beating Costa Rica 2-0. The United States scored twice in the last 15 minutes to draw 2-2 in El Salvador while Trinidad salvaged a 1-1 draw at home to Honduras as goalkeeping misfortunes played a part in both games. Omar Bravo and Pavel Pardo scored in each half to give Mexico their first points in the final stage of the region's qualifying contest in front of 100,000 fans at the Azteca. The United States top the six-team table with four points from two games, followed by Costa Rica and Mexico on three, El Salvador and Trinidad on two and Honduras on one. The top three teams qualify for South Africa in 2010 and the fourth plays off against the fifth side from South America. Striker Bravo, previously overlooked by Eriksson, opened the scoring in the 20th minute before Pardo, making his 146th appearance, won and converted a penalty eight minutes into the second half. "The team worked well, professionally," said Eriksson. "Mexico dominated the game and we could have won by more goals. "The team was compact, aggressive in attack and didn't give away silly free kicks like we did before." It was Costa Rica's first defeat in 12 outings under coach Rodrigo Kenton. Playmaker Eliseo Quintanilla and Cristian Castillo scored to put rank outsiders El Salvador 2-0 ahead against the United States at the Cuscutlan stadium. However, the visitors hit back after El Salvador goalkeeper Miguel Montes was injured and replaced by Juan Gomez. Jozy Altidore headed one back before Frankie Hejduk scored the equaliser from another header with two minutes left. In Port of Spain, Khaleem Hyland scored an 89th minute winner for Trinidad with a shot that slipped through the hands of Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares. Carlos Pavon, standing in for the injured David Suazo, had headed the visitors in front in the 50th minute.
29 March 2009
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