Team Mexico claimed first place in Group A with a lackluster win over Martinique in the Gold Cup.
El Tri moved to 6-0-0 in the Gerardo Martino era, but Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Martinique in Charlotte was the most unimpressive showing for Mexico since “Tata” took charge in January. Most pundits picked Mexico to win the game in a rout, so the narrow victory was a surprise.
Uriel Antuna, Raúl Jiménez and Fernando Navarro scored for Mexico, but the offensive misfired most of the night. El Tri enjoyed 69% possession on the game and got off 25 shots, but only 10 on goal. Martinique goalie Loic Chauvet made 7 saves, most of the spectacular variety. The keeper was let off the hook on several occasions as Team Mexico sprayed wide-open shots all too frequently.
Antuna scored just before the half-hour mark when Andrés Guardado hit him with a long diagonal pass, freeing the L.A. Galaxy winger down the right flank. Antuna stepped inside his defender at the top of the box then tucked a left-footed shot inside the near post for a 1-0 lead.
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Martinique sat back most of the game in a disciplined 4-1-4-1 formation making it difficult for El Tri to move the ball through the middle. The underdogs also stood firm on the back line and blocked quite a few shots and crossing attempts.
Ten minutes after play resumed in the second half, defender César Montes committed a silly foul just outside the goalie box when a single Martinique player was being triple-teamed. Kevin Parsemain ripped the resulting free kick into the upper corner inside the far post. Goalie Jonathan Orozco had no chance and suddenly the game was tied.
Five minutes later, defender Carlos Salcedo carried the ball forward and filtered a pass to Rodolfo Pizarro who broke behind the defense and squared firmly to Jiménez who was unmarked in front of goal. In minute 72, Navarro scored his first goal for El Tri, racing in from the right side and sliding home shot off a nifty toe-poke pass from Jiménez.
Jordy Delem cut the lead to one in minute 84 when El Tri fell asleep on a set piece from a corner kick and nobody picked up Delem who made a delayed cut into the box where he was able to head home a cross from 10 meters out.
Mexico moves on to the knockout round where it will face either Costa Rica or Haiti. The two teams each have 6 points in Group B, but Costa Rica leads on goal differential. Haiti can claim first place with a win against Costa Rica on Monday night, while the Ticos only need a tie to avoid Mexico in the quarterfinals.