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Costa Rica top in CONCACAF as Mexico held in Panama

Costa Rica's Joel Campbell (L) fights for the ball with Honduras' Victor Bernardez during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at th
Costa Rica's Joel Campbell (L) fights for the ball with Honduras' Victor Bernardez during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at th

By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - Costa Rica and the United States earned crucial wins in their World Cup qualifying games in the CONCACAF region on Friday while Mexico were held to a goalless draw at dogged Panama.

Roy Millers' 25th minute header, after Honduras keeper Noel Valladares parried out a Celso Borges free-kick, was enough to give Costa Rica a 1-0 victory in San Jose which moved them to the top spot.

Costa Rica (seven points) lead on goal difference from the United States (seven) while Mexico also have seven points although they have played one more game.

Panama (6), Honduras (4) and Jamaica (2) complete the bottom half.

The United States were lucky to be part of the leading trio after Brad Evans struck in injury time to give Juergen Klinsmann's team a 2-1 win in Kingston against Jamaica.

The Americans took the lead on the half hour with a thundering header from Jozy Altidore who met a beautifully delivered Graham Zusi cross.

But the Reggae Boyz looked to have snatched a point with a Jermaine Beckford header in the 89th minute before Evans slotted home after being well provided for by Michael Bradley.

Mexico will be disappointed with their fourth draw in five games but Panama are proving to be the surprise package in the group.

Surprisingly Mexican striker Aldo Di Nigris, who scored in Tuesday's 1-0 win in Jamaica, was left on the bench and did not enter until he replaced the injured Javier Hernandez in the 80th minute.

There were few chances but Panama went the closest in the second half when, from a corner, striker Blas Perez fired through the crowded penalty area but Mexico keeper Jesus Corona got down well.

Panama, who have never reached a World Cup finals, travel to Seattle on Tuesday to face the United States.

Mexico host Costa Rica while Jamaica travel to Honduras.

(Reporting By Simon Evans, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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