Mexico maintained a stranglehold on the top spot in Hexagonal qualifying for the 2018 World Cup Thursday with a 3-0 win over Honduras at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
El Tri (4-1-0) is sitting pretty atop the CONCACAF table with 13 points, while Honduras' World Cup aspirations took a major hit. The Central American hopefuls dropped to 1-1-3 with just four points following the loss.
Sports Illustrated's Planet Futbol provided a complete breakdown of the standings with five Hex games in the books:
Planet Fútbol @si_soccer
At the halfway point of the Hex: *1. Mexico (13 points) *2. Costa Rica (8) *3. United States (7) -4. Panama (6) 5. Honduras (4) 6. T&T (3) https://t.co/KcFzH0TFKx2017-6-9 03:55:01
As the scoreline indicates, El Tri had the upper hand Thursday night.
Composed and comfortable in front of its home crowd, Mexico dictated the pace and was the clear aggressor throughout the first half.
As a result, Juan Carlos Osorio's side was able to mount goal-scoring chances before finally breaking through in the 34th minute when Oswaldo Alanis headed home a corner kick courtesy of Jonathan dos Santos.
According to soccer scribe Cesar Hernandez, Alanis' tally was key because it helped open things up for Mexico:
Cesar Hernandez @cesarhfutbol
Mexico needed that goal calm down. Afterwards, the team was much more composed and confident with possession #ElTriEng2017-6-9 02:51:56
And as ESPN FC's Tom Marshall highlighted, seemingly every number worked in El Tri's favor following the first half:
Tom Marshall @mexicoworldcup
Mexico 1-0 Honduras at the break. #Eltrieng coasting. 70% possession, 8 shots to Honduras' 3, although Honduras is winning 11-1 in fouls.2017-6-9 02:48:40
The floodgates proceeded to open in the second half, with Hirving Lozano (63') and Raul Jimenez (66') getting on the board with goals three minutes apart to establish an insurmountable gulf between El Tri and Honduras.
ESPN Stats & Info and Goal.com's Jon Arnold noted Lozano's goal was particularly significant, albeit for different reasons:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Hirving "Chucky" Lozano had been scoreless in seven straight games for club and country prior to his goal2017-6-9 03:38:18
Jon Arnold @ArnoldcommaJon
Mexico fans: YES! GOAL LOZANO! Celta, PSV & Sociedad: Nooooo (pull out wallets)2017-6-9 03:25:12
With another comfortable win in hand, Mexico will now shift its attention toward Sunday's clash with the United States at Estadio Azteca.
El Tri will undoubtedly be favored in the anticipated clash since it's sitting pretty atop the table and topped the Stars and Stripes 2-1 last time out in November, but Osorio will have to prepare his squad for a Red, White and Blue team that's building confidence after Christian Pulisic notched a brace Thursday night against Trinidad and Tobago.
The good news for Mexico is that it will have the luxury of rolling out a lineup with far more firepower Sunday after Javier Hernandez, Hector Moreno and Marco Fabian were all rested against Honduras.