Mexico defeated Canada 3-1 to take control of Group A in the 2019 Gold Cup.
Andrés Guardado scored twice and El Tri virtually clinched a spot in the Gold Cup quarterfinals with a 3-1 win over Canada in Denver on Wednesday night.
Guardado came on in place of the injured Erick Gutiérrez (hamstring) in minute 38 as Mexico was once again bitten by the injury bug. Roberto Alvarado scored shortly thereafter and El Tri went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead at the half.
Mexico dominated the stats page, but did not look especially sharp, allowing Canada to stay in the game. El Tri fired off 18 shots, but only 6 were on net, and their play at the back – especially the central defense pairing of Diego Reyes and Néstor Araujo – should be a concern for coach “Tata” Martino.
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Guardado scored his first in minute 54, blasting a shot past Canadian keeper Milan Borjan from 25 meters to put Mexico up 2-0. But a poor giveaway by Araujo allowed Canada’s Lucas Cavallini to cut the deficit in half, 2-1, with 15 minutes remaining.
El Tri showed some mettle by answering almost immediately when Uriel Antuna broke free down the right flank, dribbled into the box and dropped a pass to Guardado. “El Principito” stepped around one defender then fired a right-footer that deflected of a Canadian defender and into the back of the net to restore Mexico’s 2-goal advantage.
The result leaves Mexico atop Group A with 6 points from 2 matches. Canada and Martinique are tied for second place with 3 points each. El Tri plays Martinique in the final group-stage match on Sunday. A tie will clinch first place in the group.
Raúl Jiménez did not score but he had a hand in all three Mexico goals. His clever shot in minute 40 was blocked right to Alvarado who blasted home the opener. Raúl forced the turnover that led to Guardado’s first goal and Jiménez’s flick-on header sprung Antuna free down the right side eventually leading to the clincher.
Left back Jesús Gallardo also had a strong game, often running rampant down the sideline and creating havoc for Canada’s defense.
Notes: Guardado has now played in a team record 20 Gold Cup matches (tying Gerardo Torrado) and his brace gives him 12 goals in the tournament, also tying a Mexico record (“Zague”). … Mexico has now won all six matches with “Tata” at the helm, outscoring opponents 23-7. … The win over Canada marked the first time since the 2011 Gold Cup that El Tri won its first two group-stage games. Mexico went on to win that tournament, defeating Team USA 4-2 in the final. … Antuna leads the tournament with 3 goals and he has two assists so far. … Edson Álvarez got the start in midfield, returning from a knee injury he suffered in a June 6 friendly against Venezuela.