Baptiste double ends T&T campaign on a positive

Baptiste double ends T&T campaign on a positiveBmobile Joe Public midfielder turned striker Kerry Baptiste netted a double for home side Trinidad and Tobago which held Mexico to a 2-2 draw in their final World Cup 2010 qualifying match on Wednesday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

Mexico saw its five-match winning streak snapped, to finish second in the CONCACAF “hexagonal”, one point behind the United States. Honduras defeated El Salvador 1-0 in San Salvador and, coupled with USA’s stunning 2-2 draw against Costa Rica, earned the confederation’s third automatic berth to the World Cup.

Despite Kerry Baptiste's double and a point against the Mexicans, Trinidad & Tobago finished last in the six-team group with six points from 10 matches.

Playing for nothing but pride, the Soca Warriors pressured El Tri from the opening kick. Baptiste's point blank header was pushed away by goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who also was caught off his line moments later before his defender cleared another Baptiste effort off the line.

Baptiste was then played behind the Mexican defense, but he fired well of the target from 16 meters. Baptiste stepped to the spot in the 32nd minute after Gerardo Torrado was adjudged to handle a deep cross.

The Joe Public midfielder fired a well placed low shot that evaded Ochoa's full stretch for Trinidad & Tobago's 1-0 advantage which last throughout the first half.

Enrique Esqueda equalized in the 58th minute, ripping the ball over goalkeeper Marvin Phillip’s right shoulder from the right side of the box.

But the Soca Warriors quickly regained the lead when Baptiste latched onto Hector Hughton’s ball into the box and headed past Ochoa from the edge of the six-yard box in the 61st minute.

Trinidad’s lead lasted all of five minutes, though, as Carlos Salcido got in behind the defense and headed the equalizer into the net.

The Soca Warriors nearly claimed all three points moments later, but Robert Primus’ header caromed off the crossbar.

With the United States losing 2-0 to Costa Rica at halftime in Washington, it seemed Mexico would finish atop the group with a draw, but the Americans rallied late and on Jonathan Bornstein’s goal 4½ minutes into second-half stoppage time to stay one point ahead of El Tri.