Mexico downs Haiti on late Jimenez penalty to reach Gold Cup finals

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Raul Jimenez bailed Mexico out again, bagging a 93rd minute penalty to send his country through to the Gold Cup finals past Haiti by a 1-0 score after extra time.

Mexico dominated the match but struggled in the final third, ripping 27 shots towards Johnny Placide but finding the target with just five. After regulation ended goalless, extra time began and the match was decided soon later. Mexico was bailed out by a soft but accurate whistle in stoppage time as Jimenez was clipped by a high boot from Herve Bazile at the top of the box after receiving the ball, and he was on hand to deliver the winning blow.

The goal was Jimenez’s fifth of the tournament, and he has arguably been their best and most consistent attacker. The rest of the strike force wilted in Glendale, with Monterrey attacker Rodolfo Pizarro proving a dangerous creative force but Jimenez and Andres Guardado were both denied by wonderful Placide saves and Jonathan dos Santos failed to put his first-half chance on frame.

While Mexico’s attack continued to sputter, the defense was comfortable for much of the game, holding Haiti to just one shot on target among its 11 total efforts. Assisting matters was the 69% possession Mexico maintained, keeping Haiti’s chances down further. They nearly had a dramatic late equalizer in the 119th minute, but Mikael Cantave cannoned his shot off the crossbar with Haiti’s last opportunity.

Mexico head coach Tata Martino was suspended for the match and forced to watch from a private box, banished from the pitch due to a pair of yellow cards picked up during the tournament, a new feature of the FIFA rules that state managers and coaches can pick up yellow and red cards like players and are thus subjected to the same suspension scenarios.

Haiti’s tournament comes to a bittersweet end after a fantastic showing, winning its group which also featured Costa Rica, coming back from two goals down to beat Canada in the knockout stage, and playing Mexico to the death. The finals appearance for Mexico will see them gun for a leading eighth Gold Cup title, with the United States currently sitting on six. They will face the winner of the second semifinal between the USMNT and Jamaica which takes place Wednesday evening.