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.
This is one of the most lopsided semifinals in Gold Cup history, at least in terms of expectations.
Tata Martino’s 18th ranked Mexico meets tournament upstarts Haiti, some 83 positions lower on the FIFA charts.
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Elo Ratings have Haiti plenty higher after this tournament run, but the point remains the same: the Haitians would further stun the continent with a berth in the final at the expense of El Tri.
Mexico has won a record six Gold Cups. This is Haiti’s first semifinal since the tournament was still the CONCACAF Championship.
Haiti completed an historic comeback over Canada on Saturday evening to advance to the Gold Cup semifinals for the first time, and they have the clever control of Wilde-Donald Guerrier to thank.
Duckens Nazon, who had scored earlier, dribbled on goal before turning back. He caught the eye of Guerrier, who made a late darting run into the box. Nazon chipped the ball in and Guerrier took two touches, both in the air and the second to get around Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, before finishing to make it 3-2.
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Watch the fantastic Gold Cup golazo below.
The Mexican National Team may think that the hard work is over until the final if it beats Costa Rica, but that will mean El Tri hasn’t been paying attention to Haiti.
For the third time at the Gold Cup, Haiti came back from a deficit to win, this time overcoming a two-goal deficit to beat Canada, 3-2, in the quarterfinals opener in Houston, Texas. Now both Mexico and Costa Rica will have Haiti on their minds ahead of their matchup.
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It’s been a strong Gold Cup for El Tri, starting with a 7-0 thrashing of Cuba and a 3-1 win over Cuba that featured Andres Guardado in vintage form. A 3-2 win over Martinique, which gave Mexico some problems late, could open the door for Costa Rica.
However, Los Ticos are coming in off a poor last game as well, in which they were outplayed and outrun by Haiti at Red Bull Arena, especially late in a 2-1 win for Haiti, in which it came back from being a goal down. Ultimately, this matchup is one that was expected in the semifinals, not as soon as the quarterfinals, meaning one of the favorites is heading home early.
Costa Rica is at the end of a cycle of star players while El Tri is trying out some young guns, like Edson Alvarez and LA Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna. It will be interesting to see if the veteran poise of Costa Rica overcomes the young talent of El Tri.
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Poetic justice, put it in a Song.
Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.
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Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.
An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.
The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.
Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.