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Jimenez saves Mexico with late goal against Panama

Mexico City, Mexico (SportsNetwork.com) - Mexico's World Cup hopes are still alive after Raul Jimenez scored on a stunning bicycle kick in the 85th minute to lift El Tri to a dramatic 2-1 win over Panama at the Azteca Stadium on Friday.

Mexico entered the match level with Panama in fourth place in CONCACAF, and a 1-0 win for third-place Honduras over Costa Rica earlier in the day put even more pressure on both teams.

The home side went in front five minutes before halftime through Oribe Peralta, while Javier Hernandez missed a penalty kick for Mexico in the 56th minute that would have doubled the lead.

Panama equalized nine minutes from time when Luis Tejada took a pass from Gabriel Torres and rounded the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into the empty net.

Mexico had yet to win a game at home in the final round of qualifying, going 0-1-3, but Jimenez came to the rescue minutes later.

Fernando Arce drove a low ball into the penalty area for Jimenez and he took a touch with his back to goal to set himself up before driving the ball off the left post and into the net with a bicycle kick from 17 yards.

The match was Mexico's first under manager Victor Manuel Vucetich, who took charge of the team in September, and the win leaves them three points back of Honduras in third and three points clear of Panama for a place in the two- legged playoff against New Zealand.

Mexico will close its qualifying campaign at Costa Rica on Tuesday and needs at least a point to ensure fourth place, while a win coupled with a Honduras loss at Jamaica could still see Mexico sneak into the top three.