It was not the prettiest victory by any means, but a Juan Carlos Osorio-less Mexico got things running in the right direction in their CONCACAF Gold Cup opener.
Clinical on El Salvador’s defensive errors, Mexico rallied past La Selecta, 3-1, at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday night, allowing Mexico to get their foot in the door on knockout stage aspirations from the get-go.
Nelson Bonilla’s unflustered strike to Jesus Corona’s bottom-left corner in the 10th minute was a bit of a spoiler to El Tri’s quintessential narrative; leveling La Selecta and CONCACAF’s giants at one a piece. El Salvador’s goal was almost an immediate response to Hedgardo Marin’s set-piece goal only two minutes prior.
Like the meager instances before, it was going to take a faultless performance from La Selecta to topple El Tri. That was not the case in Sunday night’s Group C clash. In the 29th minute, Elias Hernandez added worth to his Man of the Match performance; giving Mexico the lead before heading into the dressing room and foreshadowing what was to come.
Orbelin Pineda’s scrappy goal in the 55th minute handed Mexico a comfortable two-goal lead they rode for the remainder of the match.
JAMAICA WINS CARRIBEAN CUP REMATCH OVER CURAÇAO
Jamaica had quite the incentive to defeat Curaçao in their Group C opener.
The Reggae Boyz set aside their haunting memories from last month’s loss to Curaçao in the Caribbean Cup final, and defeated the same side, 2-0, in the first of Sunday’s doubleheader at Qualcomm Stadium.
A somewhat alternate Jamaican side and unabridged Curaçao played to a yawnful, scoreless first 45 minutes.
But it only took 13 minutes into the second half to lift the Jamaicans off their seats following Romario William’s goal. The Charleston Battery’s forward, placed a heated strike into the Caribbean champions first post, giving Eloy Room no chance to react.
Jamaica’s and Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake was the difference, recording six saves throughout the 90 minutes and with some being from point-blank range.
Along with Blake’s heroics, the Reggae Boyz were able to bag a second goal in the 73rd minute. Darren Mattock’s delicately brought down a floating cross from the left flank and blasted the ball into the roof of the net, ending Curaçao’s chances of repeating that June victory in Martinique.
Group C will continue its action in the mile-high city on Thursday, where Mexico will face Jamaica and Curaçao plays El Salvador.