Paul Aguilar ripped his volley into the far corner of Brad Guzan's net in an instant, setting off a delirious celebration for the majority of the Rose Bowl crowd.
After four winless years in the rivalry, Mexico had finally beaten the United States with a goal they'll remember on both sides of the border.
Aguilar scored Mexico's second goal of extra time on a stunning volley in the 118th minute, and Mexico earned a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup with a 3-2 victory over the United States on Saturday night.
Aguilar beat Guzan with incredible speed after Raul Jimenez chipped the ball over his head and into the penalty area, putting a thrilling finish on the latest chapter of this rivalry at a sold-out American stadium dominated by Mexican fans. Javier Hernandez scored an early goal for Mexico, which beat the U.S. for the first time since the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
"A loss is always difficult to swallow, especially when there is a lot at stake," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "It means that you have to work even harder than you ever did before to turn the results around and make things happen."
Both teams appeared to be exhausted heading into extra time on a hot night in Southern California, but they were just getting started. Oribe Peralta scored a tiebreaking goal in the sixth minute of extra time for Mexico, but Bobby Wood dramatically evened it 12 minutes later for the Americans, who lost to Mexico for the first time in seven games under Klinsmann.
"Everybody was very confident after Bobby scored that goal," U.S. defender Matt Besler said. "The entire Rose Bowl erupted. It's a feeling that I'll never forget. I think we had eight minutes left. I knew we were going to get a couple more chances, and on the other end, I was confident we weren't going to allow Mexico to score. Unfortunately that didn't work out."
Instead, El Tri won the one-game playoff between the last two Gold Cup winners to earn CONCACAF's berth in the eight-team Confederations Cup tournament in Russia, a prelude to the 2018 World Cup.
"It's a result that was earned," Mexico interim coach Ricardo Perretti said. "Over 120 minutes, we did more to earn that third goal."
A crowd of 93,723 created a crackling atmosphere under the lights at the 93-year-old stadium. It was the second-largest attendance to watch the U.S. team at home, barely surpassed by the 1994 Rose Bowl turnout for a World Cup game against Romania.
Geoff Cameron scored in the 15th minute for the U.S., but Saturday was a double downer for the United States: A few hours earlier, the under-23 team lost 2-0 to Honduras, putting the American men in danger of failing to qualify for its second straight Olympics.
Early in extra time, Peralta slipped into the middle and banged a loose ball between Cameron's legs. The U.S., backed up by Mexico for much of the night, struck back with surprising precision: Substitute DeAndre Yedlin dribbled easily to the top of the penalty area and slid a pass to a crossing Wood, who buried an 8-yard shot with his right foot.
Wood is building a remarkable history of dramatic late goals after scoring winners in exhibitions against Germany and the Netherlands in June.
Aguilar's goal was a crackerjack display of skill and athleticism — areas where Mexico still appears to trump the U.S.
Jimenez cannily chipped back against the run of play, Aguilar put a vicious volley past Guzan and then celebrated by throwing himself into the signage boards lining the field.
"I mean, listen, it's a decent finish," Guzan deadpanned. "He hit it out of the air."
Mexico's vociferous Southern California fan base turned out impressively in Pasadena, filling the Rose Bowl's parking lots and stands with tricolor flags and raucous cheers on an unseasonably hot day. Mexico had a sizable fan advantage in the crowd, yet it was significantly more bipartisan than in the teams' last meeting at the venerable stadium four years ago.
Mexico beat the U.S. 4-2 in the 2011 Gold Cup final that day, a loss that led to coach Bob Bradley's departure and Klinsmann's arrival.
Landon Donovan was among the U.S. observers who considered this game to be a referendum on Klinsmann's four-year tenure. His team has endured an unsettling summer with its semifinal loss to Jamaica in the Gold Cup and two friendly losses, and Mexico controlled play before getting the late result.
"Everybody can express his opinion, but not everybody likes you, and that's totally fine," Klinsmann said. "I am not here to be liked. I'm trying to do a good job, and privileged to have that role and represent the U.S. soccer program."
The U.S. and Mexico played overtime for just the second time in the rivalry's 65-game history. Mexico won 1-0 in a Confederations Cup semifinal at Azteca Stadium in 1999.