Gabriel Torres and his Panama side fell to Mexico, 2-1, in the second-to-last World Cup Qualifying match of the Hexagonal on a late and spectacular bicycle kick by El Tri's Raul Jimenez at Estadio Azteca on Friday night. The win lifted Mexico above Panama and into sole possession of the coveted fourth spot in the CONCACAF standings with one match left.
Mexico opened the scoring in the 40th minute through Oribe Peralta after a dominant first half, but it was Panama who controled large swathes of the second stanza. Still, it was Panama's goalkeeper, Jaime Penedo of the LA Galaxy, who earlier kept los Canaleros close, saving a poor Javier 'Chicarito' Hernandez penalty after a dubious call in the box.
Rapids forward Torres, who came in for FC Dallas striker Blas Perez in the 79th minute, made that save count two minutes later when he set up Luis Tejada for the equalizer after a blown offside trap by the hosts.
However, Club America striker Raul Jimenez penned the last - and best - act of a back-and-forth contest, pinging home a spectacular 17-yard bicycle kick in the 85th minute to give El Tri a vital 2-1 win over Los Canaleros.
In order for Mexico to claim third place and automatically qualify for next summer's World Cup, they would need to win Tuesday in Costa Rica and see Honduras lose at Jamaica by enough to overtake the Catrachos on goal differential.
For Panama, any multi-goal win against the US and a Mexico loss, or a single-goal win and a Mexico loss in which El Tri score fewer than four goals are the paths to fourth place in the Hex. Whichever team finishes fourth will take on New Zealand in a home-and-home for a spot in Brazil.