The Canadian men's soccer team hadn't won in half a century of World Cup qualfiers on Mexican soil, and Wednesday's result failed to change that.
Omar Blanco and Rafael Marquez scored in the second half as Mexico toppled Team Canada 2-1 in the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying at Tuxtla Gutierrez.
Blanco, who entered the match as a substitute for Giovani Dos Santos, broke a scoreless stalemate just shy of the hour mark as he headed a perfect cross from
Ricardo Osario inside the right post beyond the reach of a leaping Lars Hirschfeld.
Marquez, the Mexican captain, made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute off a corner kick from Andres Guardado, leaning low to head the ball past a startled Hirschfeld.
Ali Gerba replied five minutes later for the 81st-ranked Canadians, leaping high on a free kick from Iain Hume to knock a bouncing header past Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
"This one was always going to be a tough one, probably the toughest game in CONCACAF — playing Mexico away from home," Canadian coach Dale Mitchell said. "We did everything we could to get a result tonight, but we didn't get it."
Canada is 0-2-1 in its regional qualifying group, which features Mexico (24), Honduras (60) and Jamaica (105).
Mexico leads Group Two with nine points, followed by Honduras with six and Canada and Jamaica with one apiece.
Each team plays the other home and away, with the top two advancing to the final round of regional qualifying.
Canada played Jamaica to a 1-1 draw at Toronto's BMO Field on Aug. 20, and lost 2-1 to Honduras last Saturday at Montreal's Saputo Stadium.
Canada will travel to Honduras on Oct. 11 and welcome Mexico to Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 15 before wrapping up the qualifying round at Jamaica on Nov. 19.
"There are still three matches left to play, so we have to approach them with the right mentality," Mitchell said.
Striker Tomasz Radzinksi missed Wednesday's showdown because of an injured finger, and midfielder Patrice Bernier was forced to sit out with two yellow cards handed him in the loss to Honduras.
Like Bernier, Dwayne DeRosario will be suspended for Canada's next match after he received a second yellow on Wednesday.
Last hurrah for Blanco
Prior to the match, Mexican striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco confirmed he is retiring from international play, prompting manager Sven Goran-Eriksson to let him play the final few minutes as a late substitute off the bench.
Blanco, who has 34 international goals, was booked for diving in the waning seconds, even though it looked like he simply stumbled.
At the final whistle, several of Blanco's teammates walked onto the pitch and unfurled a long banner that read "Gracias Cuauhtemoc."
Blanco's club team is the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.With files from the Canadian Press