Mexico was on the verge of elimination from the CONCACAF Nations League, where they would need to navigate a one-game playoff just to qualify for the 2024 Copa America.
Then, peak CONCACAF happened, and El Tri advanced in epic fashion, as Edson Alvarez’s 101st-minute equalizer forced extra time, and Mexico triumphed in a drama-filled penalty shootout.
Honduras, who came in with a 2-0 aggregate lead after victory in the first leg, held on for dear life throughout the match. Luis Chavez’s opening goal just before halftime put Mexico within striking distance, but the hosts came up empty with chance after chance to level the aggregate score.
As the game wound down and the hosts time and time again missed open opportunities to score, it seemed as if they were destined for an early Nations League exit. Yet referee Ivan Barton and his crew inexplicably showed an astronomical nine minutes of stoppage time, giving Mexico new life.
They used every second afforded to them, and in the 11th minute of added time, Alvarez managed to poke the ball into the net for the equalizer. Honduras held on through extra time to force a penalty shootout, but again the referees pegged them back in their quest for a huge upset.
With Honduras in the shootout by the fourth round, referee Ivan Barton wiped off not one but two saves by Honduran goalkeeper Edrick Menjivar on Cesar Huerta’s penalty for coming off his line early, and Huerta bagged his third take to keep the hosts in front. After that, Andy Najar’s miss saw Mexico officially through, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.