Los Angeles -
Raul Alonso Jimenez's stunning bicycle kick lifted Mexico to a 2-1 win over Panama on Friday, breathing new life into El Tri's World Cup bid and keeping Honduras' hopes on hold.
Jimenez's splendid bicycle kick five minutes from time - just two minutes after he entered the match - gave Mexico the much needed win, moving them into sole possession of fourth place in the six-nation final qualifying group in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Honduras had earlier strengthened their hold on third place - and the final direct entry from the region to next year's finals in Brazil - with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica at San Pedro Sula.
Jerry Bengtson's 64th-minute strike lifted Honduras, whose third trip to the World Cup could have been sealed with a draw between Mexico and Panama - but Jimenez had other ideas.
Long the powerhouse of the region, Mexico have endured a dismal qualifying campaign and went into Friday's match level on points with Panama and desperately needing a win.
Mexico opened the scoring in the 40th minute with Manchester United forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez lobbing a pass to Oribe Peralta who made the most of his opportunity from inside the area.
But Hernandez missed a penalty in the second half after his weak attempt was saved by goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
His miss was followed by a costly mistake by keeper Guillermo Ochoa, whose failure to secure the ball inside the area allowed Panama's Luis Tejada to tap in the equalizer from close range in the 80th.
But Jimenez came in for Jesus Eduardo Zavala and made the difference, the victory taking Mexico's points total to 11 - three behind Honduras.
Honduras need only to draw at last-placed Jamaica in their final match on Tuesday to punch their ticket to Brazil.
At worst Honduras could finish fourth, and play off for a Brazil berth against Oceania's New Zealand.
Mexico, who travel to Costa Rica on Tuesday, now look the most likely to take on New Zealand, although Panama, on eight points and hosting group winners the United States on Tuesday, still have a mathematical chance of grabbing fourth place.
Jurgen Klinsmann's US team made sure they will finish top of the group with a 2-0 triumph over Jamaica in Kansas City.
Graham Zusi scored in the 77th minute and Jozy Altidore doubled the score in the 80th as the Reggae Boyz's slim hopes of making the New Zealand playoff were extinguished.
The United States top the table with 19 points. Costa Rica, also already qualified, are second on 15.
The Americans, who clinched a World Cup berth with a win over Mexico in their previous qualifier, looked sluggish in the first half.
Defender Brad Evans was called on to make a last-gasp clearance of a dangerous Jamaica cross in the early going and Rodolph Austin fired a shot inches past the past for the visitors.
Things finally kicked into gear for the hosts in the 77th minute when Alejandro Bedoya was played into the penalty area on the right and he pulled the ball back for Zusi to score.
Edgar Castillo was also brought into the game as a substitute in the second half for the United States and made an impact with a cross from the left that set up Altidore's goal. - Sapa-AFP