Mexico closes in on World Cup berth

Nov. 13, 2013 at 8:57 PM
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MEXICO CITY, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Oribe Peralta scored twice Wednesday and Mexico closed in on a World Cup berth with a 5-1 rout of New Zealand in the first leg of their playoff series.

Mexico all but clinched one of the 11 remaining spots in next year's, month-long soccer spectacular to be contested in Brazil.

Despite struggling during the final round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region, Mexico managed a fourth-place finish that earned it a playoff against New Zealand.

The two-match, aggregate score playoff will conclude in Wellington, New Zealand, with the host team in that one needing to make up a four-goal deficit.

In another intercontinental playoff series Wednesday, Uruguay opened with a 5-1 victory over Jordan in Amman.

All five World Cup berths from Africa will be determined during the next week and the four playoff series in Europe will start on Friday with Ukraine meeting France, Greece facing Romania, Iceland taking on Croatia and Portugal playing Sweden.

Nations having clinched a spot in the World Cup include:

Europe -- Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Spain and England.

Asia -- Australia, Japan, Iran and South Korea.

South America -- Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chili and Ecuador.

North America, Central America, Caribbean -- United States, Costa Rica and Honduras.

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