Mexico held off South Korea on Saturday, beating it 2-1, and adding more pressure to the reigning World Cup champions Germany.
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If Germany loses or ties to Sweden in Saturday evening’s match, it would automatically send Mexico to the knockout round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Mexico has reached the knockout round each of the last six World Cups, then lost in the round of 16 each time.
Mexico took the lead early in the match in the 26th minute with a penalty kick from Carlos Vala after Jang Hyun-soo was penalized for handball when he tried to intercept a cross.
At the 66th minute mark, Javier Hernández scored on a rapid break. Heung-min scored on a curler in stoppage time to save South Korea from being shutout.
Prior to the match, South Korea’s coach Shin Tae-yong said the heat would be an issue for his team.
“The Mexicans could have the edge in terms of playing under such suffocating heat,” Shin said.
The temperature at kickoff time was around 95 degrees.
Mexico is 4-0 against Asian teams in the World Cup, including a 3-1 victory over South Korea in 1998.
South Korea’s slim chance of reaching the knockout round requires Germany to win against Sweeden and then losing to it.
Both teams finish group play Wednesday with Mexico facing Sweden and South Korea facing Germany.
A stretch of road in National City was shut down briefly after a large crowd took to the streets to celebrate Mexico’s win.
Highland Avenue was blocked between Plaza Boulevard and 16th Street, and MTS bus service was temporarily rerouted to D Avenue, police said around 11:20 a.m.
The road had been re-opened by 12:10 p.m.
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