CONCACAF: Gold Cup quarter-finalists decided (+video)
The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup has reached the knockout rounds, which will begin this Saturday, following the group stages which came to a close last night.
Defending champions Mexico came through Group A with a 100% record and have firmly stamped themselves as the tournament favourites having easily overcome the challenges of group rivals Costa Rica (5-0), El Salvador (4-1) and Cuba (5-0). Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez is the current tournament top scorer with five goals as he continues the great form which saw him lift a league title medal in England this season. Costa Rica and El Salvador tied on four points but the former’s superior goal difference saw them go through automatically to the last eight whilst the latter had to see how the third place finishers in the other groups fared.
WATCH CUBA v MEXICO HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
CFU Caribbean Cup winners Jamaica also progressed with a 100% record, scoring seven goals without reply in Group B. They had it easy against Grenada (4-0) but were made to work that little bit harder in their other victories against Guatemala (2-0) and Honduras (1-0). Just like in Group A, the teams that finished in second and third were tied on four points so it came down to goal difference to separate Honduras (+5) from Guatemala (+2) with the latter still in with a possibility of qualifying with one of the two best third-placed records.
Group C saw a shock when Panama saw off tournament hosts the United States to first place in the group. This was helped in no small part to the former’s 2-1 victory over the latter in their second group match although Panama only officially clinched top spot after a stoppage time equalizer in their final group game against Canada last night salvaged a 1-1 draw. The point saw Panama (7pts) finish one point ahead of the United States who, in turn, were two points clear of Canada, whose dream of a quarter-final place was dashed following that last-gasp equalizer. Canada had the worst record out of those teams finishing in third place and were eliminated. Guadeloupe came bottom of the group but were far from disgraced losing by just a single goal in all three games.
WATCH CANADA v PANAMA HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
The most intriguing quarter-final match-up sees the USA face off against Jamaica with a place in the semi-finals by no means assured for the hosts. In the other games Mexico are expected to seal a spot in the final four following their game against Guatemala, Panama are favourites to see off El Salvador in their tie whilst the game between Honduras and Costa Rica could be amongst the tightest in this year’s competition.