Mexico clinches 2018 World Cup bid

Panama's Luis Ovalle, right, and Mexico's Jurgen Damm vie for the ball during a 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying soccer match at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
(AP Photo/Christian Palma)

The Mexican national soccer team clinched its spot in the 2018 World Cup on Friday night with their 1-0 victory over Panama at Azteca Stadium. The lone goal of the game came in the 53rd minute when Hirving Lozano put Mexico on the board for a lead it would never relinquish.

Having played its seventh game, Mexico has pulled away to lead the group with 17 points, while Costa Rica sits with 14 after defeating the United States earlier in the night.

Mexico will clash with Costa Rica on Sept. 5 in its next contest. The two teams met back on March 24, which saw Mexico come out on top with a 2-0 victory. The team is yet to lose a 2018 World Cup qualifying match.

It’s the seventh straight World Cup appearance for Mexico, becoming the fifth team to have clinched its birth to Russia. It joins Russia, Brazil, Iran and Japan as nations that have already qualified.

Despite Mexico’s continued success of reaching the World Cup, the nation has never gone further than the quarter finals of the event, which it did in both 1970 and 1986. Its 10th-place finish in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup was the nation’s best since that 1986 year.

The team won the gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the first gold medal in men’s soccer in the nation’s history. Just four years prior it has failed to qualify for the event. After winning the CONCACAF Championship and Gold Cup in 2015, the team went on to a ninth-place finish in the 2016 summer games.

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