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Canada one step closer to WC qualifying Johnson’s late goal lifts US to 2-1 victory

LOS ANGELES, Oct 13, (AFP): Eddie Johnson scored two goals, including the game-winner in the 90th minute, to lift the United States to a 2-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda in CONCACAF World Cup semi-final qualifying Friday. Positioned on the far post, Johnson took a pass from substitute Alan Gordon and headed the ball past goalkeeper Molvin James for the winner. Mexico, already assured of a berth in next year’s final round, kept their perfect record in intact as they scored all their goals in the second half to rout Guyana 5-0 in another qualifier for the 2014 Brazil football showdown.

With their victory, the Americans moved into a tie with Guatemala for first place in Group A with 10 points and control their own destiny entering their last semifinal round match Tuesday against Guatemala in Kansas City, Kansas. The USA is guaranteed to advance with a win or a draw against Guatemala and could potentially advance with a loss. The Americans appeared to be heading to a surprising draw with winless Antigua before Johnson’s heroics at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

Johnson scored his first goal in the 20th minute, heading home another accurate cross, this time from Graham Zusi. Antigua equalized just five minutes later with Peter Byers driving into the area on the right and then sending the ball to Dexter Blackstock, who was inside the six-meter box for an easy finish. The Americans created few chances after halftime and Antigua nearly went in front in the final 10 minutes as Byers curled a drive just wide of the right post. Antigua goalkeeper James then produced a good save on Michael Bradley’s header to keep the match even.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Andres Guardado and Oribe Peralta got Mexico rolling with late goals en route to a blanking of Guyana in a neutral-site match at Houston, Texas. Guyana defender Charles Pollard knocked in an own-goal in the 83rd minute and El Tri’s Hernandez headed one in less than two minutes later. Angel Reyna capped the scoring with a 25-yard blast for Mexico, who are a perfect 5-0 in group play with one game remaining.

Panama and El Salvador both missed out on opportunities to book early berths in the final qualifying round in CONCACAF. El Salvador lost 1-0 to Costa Rica and Panama drew 0-0 with Honduras. Canada won 3-0 over a Cuba squad that played with only 11 players after the coach said several players had left the team without permission.

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