Monday, July 15, 2024

Mexico down Panama 1-0 to lift 9th Gold Cup

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Santiago Gimenez scored the game-winner minutes after entering the match Sunday as Mexico beat Panama 1-0 to win a record-extending ninth CONCACAF Gold Cup crown.

The final of the regional championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean was a fast-paced physical affair between a Mexico team eager to move on from recent disappointments and a Panama side seeking a first Gold Cup crown in their third final appearance. Gimenez started on the bench in favor of Henry Martin and with the match deadlocked was brought on in the 85th minute.

Three minutes later the 22-year-old Feyenoord striker became an instant hero.

After Ivan Anderson’s cross into the Mexico penalty area was blocked, Mexico’s Orbelin Pineda came away with the ball and passed to Gimenez at midfield.

Gimenez raced into the penalty area, spinning away from one defender and beating another before slotting a left-footed shot past Panama goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera.

His fourth goal in 18 international appearances sparked frenzied celebrations among the largely pro-Mexico crowd of nearly 73,000 at SoFi Stadium, home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and one of the venues tabbed for the 2026 World Cup to be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Mexico added a ninth Gold Cup title to those it won in 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2019.

The United States own seven titles, but were stunningly eliminated by Panama in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals.

The victory, with interim coach Jaime Lozano at the helm, was especially sweet for a Mexico side trying to move past a disastrous World Cup in Qatar last year followed by a disappointing Nations League campaign.

Lozano, who coached Mexico to Olympic bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, was brought in to replace Diego Cocca, who was sacked last month.

“We have said it from day one. Jaime understands very well what it means to represent Mexico, he understands the player very well, he gets the best out of each player and that is reflected on the field,” said Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who won a fifth Gold Cup title.

Mexico thought they’d seized the lead in the 33rd minute when an attack launched by a long clearance from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa ended with Martin skipping onto a cross from Luis Romo and firing a left-footed shot from the center of the box into Mosquera’s net.

It took several minutes before a VAR review deemed Martin was offside.

Ten minutes later Mosquera kept the score level as he came up with two saves in rapid succession, one from Pineda and one from Martin.

Panama threatened in first-half injury time, but Anibal Godoy’s shot went just wide of the left post.

Panama avoided a damaging reduction to 10 men in the 63rd minute when Harold Cummings was shown a second yellow card for tripping Pineda only for referee Said Martinez to quickly rescind it.

After Antuna tested Mosquera with a header in the 66th minute, Panama responded with a header from Jose Fajardo that Ochoa controlled.

Panama’s Ismael Diaz then fired over the crossbar in the 75th and Edgar Barcenas came close with a long-range shot through traffic in the 87th, but Thomas Christiansen’s Canalmen had no answer to Gimenez’s strike.

 

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