Canada vs. Mexico: A history in five games

Canada's Jason Devos (5) celebrates his goal with teammates Mark Watson (13) and Jeffrey Clarke (12) during the first half of their championship match against Colombia at the Gold Cup soccer tournament Sunday, Feb. 27, 2000, at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Canada and Mexico will renew their rivalry on Tuesday when the two sides meet in a crucial World Cup qualifier at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

There’s no question that Mexico have dominated, with El Tri inflicting some heavy losses on Canada over the years. But the Reds have managed to get a few licks in against the Mexicans.

Here are five games that stand out in the Canada vs. Mexico series…

Parsons’ header sinks Mexico
Canada earned its first World Cup qualifying win over Mexico at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium on Oct. 10, 1976. Bruce Wilson swung in a free kick from the left flank at the near post that Les ‘Buzz’ Parsons headed home in the 32nd minute. Canada didn’t end up qualifying for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, but this historic win was the first of many close games between the two sides over the next five years.

Canada pushes Mexico to the limit
Four years later, the sides met again in another tense World Cup qualifier at Toronto’s old CNE Stadium. The first game of the opening round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 1982 World Cup saw Canada take the lead in the opening half through a Momcilo “Mike” Stojanovic header following a giveaway on the edge of their box. The Mexicans, though, equalized in the final minute of regulation—a shot from outside the box took a deflection and beat a helpless Tino Lettieri in the Canadian goal.

Think the 8-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula two years ago was bad? Canada was hammered (not for the first time) by the Mexicans at Azteca Stadium during the 1993 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The goals came early (the first was scored in the fourth minute) and late (Mexico completed the rout in the 85th minute) as Craig Forrest had to pick the ball out of his net eight times.

Another Azteca hammering
It wasn’t as bad as losing 8-0, but Canada was utterly outclassed in a 4-0 loss on March 2, 1997 in its opening game of the Hex—the last time Canada made it to the final round of World Cup qualifying.

The revenge
This easily ranks as one of Canada’s greatest (and most unlikely) victories. Few gave the Reds much of a chance against Mexico in the quarterfinals of the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup—especially after Canada needed the help of a coin toss to make it out of the group stage.

The rout appeared to be on when Ramon Ramirez opened the scoring for Mexico in the 35th minute in San Diego. But Canada persevered and hung with the Mexicans. After winning the ball in the middle of the park, Canada broke forward, and Martin Nash delivered a great ball from the right wing deep into the box and between two Mexican defenders for Carlo Corazzin to nod home in the 83rd minute.

It would get better. With Mexico looking physically and emotionally spent, Canada launched a blistering counter attack. Once again it was Nash who was the provider, as he fired a cross-field ball for Richard Hastings to latch onto. Hastings took it in full stride before powerfully lashing into the roof of the net.

Hasting’s golden goal in the 92nd minute clinched the victory for Canada, who would go on to win the tournament following another pair of improbable victories over Trinidad in the semis and Colombia in the final.