Mexico practically came to a standstill Wednesday afternoon as the national soccer team played a must-win qualifying match against New Zealand.
If you have any doubts about the emotion at stake, just check out the photo. That’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, his wife Angelica Rivera and some aides at Los Pinos, the presidential residence, as they watch Mexico score a goal in the match. Nearly everyone leapt in the air in excitement.
Mexico’s squad stomped New Zealand 5-1, virtually guaranteeing them a trip to Brazil next summer for the World Cup, the globe’s most popular sporting event.
The two nations face off again in Wellington, New Zealand next Wednesday. But unless the All Whites beat Mexico with a goal differential greater than four goals, Mexico will be going to Brazil.
This New Zealand Herald story called the match the “Massacre at the Azteca,” in reference to the massive soccer stadium in Mexico City, which was packed with 105,000 roaring fans.
Just a few weeks ago, Mexico's chances of qualifying seemed to nearly slip away. Mexico came in fourth in the six-nation qualifying tournament, scoring only seven goals and barely squeaking into the wild card slot against New Zealand.