Mexico beats Panama with late goal to capture record-extending 9th Gold Cup | CBC Sports

Santiago Gimenez scored after an electrifying sprint in the 88th minute, and Mexico won the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the record ninth time with a 1-0 victory over Panama on Sunday night.

After Edson Alvarez slid to block Ivan Anderson’s cross in the Mexico penalty area, Orbelin Pineda dribbled away and made a tremendous pass into the centre circle. Gimenez, 22-year-old Feyenoord forward, dribbled past Harold Cummings and outraced Cummings and Fidel Escobar into the penalty area. Gimenez scuffed a bouncing left-foot shot over goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera for his fourth goal in 18 international appearances and his second of the tournament.

The goal by the Argentina-born Gimenez, who came on as a substitute only three minutes earlier, set off a frenzied celebration at SoFi Stadium, packed with fans celebrating Mexico’s dramatic revival in this biennial CONCACAF tournament.

Several months after Mexico crashed out of the World Cup with its worst performance in nearly half a century, El Tri rebounded with an excellent tournament under interim manager Jaime Lozano, who took over the beleaguered program only a month ago.

Mexico, which allowed just two goals in its matches, has won this tournament more than all other nations combined. The U.S. has seven Gold Cup titles and Canada one.

Gimenez’s late goal ended an unlikely Gold Cup run by Panama, which upset the U.S. in the semifinals to earn its third appearance in the final. Los Canaleros couldn’t get several solid scoring chances past veteran Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Lozano, who coached Mexico’s Olympic team to a bronze medal in Tokyo two years ago, was hired to lead the Gold Cup campaign by Juan Carlos Rodriguez, who took over as Mexican Football Federation president only a month earlier.

While the Gold Cup is notorious for featuring half-strength national teams, Mexico began the final with eight starters who also started at the World Cup.

WATCH l Canadian men’s national team takeaways from the Gold Cup:

Canadian men’s national team takeaways from the Gold Cup

Host Andi Petrillo speaks with OneSoccer analyst Oliver Platt about the young players that have impressed him most for Canada during the Gold Cup.

Mexico dominated play for most of the first half, but Panama defended impressively. Henry Martin appeared to put Mexico ahead in the 33rd minute with a close-range goal, but a video review several minutes after the play found him offside.

Pineda and Martin both had tantalizing chances in the 43rd minute, but Panama goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera stopped their consecutive point-blank shots.

Panama got its best scoring chance shortly after halftime, but Alberto Quintero put his header just wide of the far post. Edgar Barcenas had another good-looking chance in the 87th minute, but missed wide from outside the box.

Moments later, Gimenez scored his biggest goal for Mexico.

Anybody who thought the absence of the hosts’ national team would lead to an anticlimactic Gold Cup final doesn’t know Southern California very well: The sellout crowd south of downtown Los Angeles was overwhelmingly dominated by fans of El Tri, which is treated like the home team whenever it plays in this area — even against the American team.

But this victory is an impressive reversal for Mexico, which failed to get out of World Cup group play in Qatar for the first time since 1978. That disappointment led to coach Tata Martino’s departure and Diego Cocca’s brief tenure before the arrival of Lozano, who largely relied on the core of his Olympic team at the Gold Cup.

Just a month after frustrated Mexican fans boycotted the third-place match of the Nations League in Las Vegas against Panama, that passionate base returned in full voice to the Los Angeles Rams’ palatial NFL stadium.

Panama barely missed the World Cup last year, yet kept Spanish coach Thomas Christiansen. The decision paid off with inspired play in the Gold Cup, culminating in the nation’s first trip to the final since 2013 with a victory over the host U.S. on penalties in San Diego.

SoFi put down natural grass for the Gold Cup final instead of its usual artificial turf for American football, and the seams in the sod were very visible in a few places. The $5 billion US stadium is in contention to host the World Cup final in 2026, but seems unlikely to get it due to the narrowness of the field.

WATCH l U.S. bests Canada on penalties:

U.S. defeats Canada in penalty kicks at CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal match

Canada lost to the Americans 3-2 on penalties Sunday night in CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal action.


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