CONCACAF: Old order seemingly restored after quarter-finals (+video)
CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament hosts the United States have got their campaign back on track following a rocky group phase. The Americans sealed a place in the semi-finals of the competition after defeating previously unbeaten Jamaica by two goals to nil in the last eight. The other quarter-finals saw tournament favourites Mexico come from behind to get the better of Guatemala whilst penalty shoot outs prevailed in the other two matches with Honduras and Panama coming out on top against Costa Rica and El Salvador respectively.
The USA needed to give their home supporters something to shout about after a mixed bag of performances in the group stage. This time the Americans secured their semi-final spot with a win against a Jamaica side who had won all of their three games in the group phase. Their quarter-final match-up was always going to be a tight affair but once Jermaine Jones had given the Stars and Stripes the lead in somewhat fortunate fashion after 49 minutes then there was no looking back for the hosts. Clint Dempsey scored his second goal of the tournament with just ten minutes remaining, thus depriving the spirited Jamaicans of further progression. However the Reggae Boyz can be proud of their earlier performances and the CFU Caribbean Cup holders have promise for the future.
WATCH UNITED STATES v JAMAICA GOALS HERE:
Javier Hernández is looking like the man who could (almost) single-handedly win Mexico the tournament after scoring his sixth goal of the tournament in his side’s 2-1 victory over Guatemala. What made the victory all the more sweeter for the Mexicans was that they showed their ability to come back following a shock 5th minute opening goal from Carlos Ruiz which had given Guatemala the lead. After Aldo de Nigris had equalized for Mexico just three minutes after the break, it was up to Hernández to supply the winning goal midway through the second half and the 2-1 lead was one that the Mexicans failed to relinquish. It is clear to see that the Manchester United star has kept up his prolific streak in front of goal following a successful first season at Old Trafford and there are many who believe that he will prove the difference between success and failure for his national team.
The other two quarter-finals proved to be tighter affairs with extra-time and penalties required to separate the teams in both matches. There was late drama in the game involving Panama and El Salvador with the latter going ahead twelve minutes before full time thanks to a Rodolfo Zelaya penalty but parity was restored in the dying seconds of the game in highly contentious fashion. Panama’s Luis Tejada’s header from close range was adjudged to have crossed the line and this decision ensured his team’s second consecutive 1-1 draw, the previous one coming against Canada in their final group phase match which helped eliminate the Canucks from the tournament. The same player helped score Panama’s final penalty in the shoot out to secure a 5-3 win and a place in the semi-finals against the Americans who will be seeking revenge for defeat in the group phase.
WATCH PANAMA v EL SALVADOR GOALS HERE:
The final match saw Honduras go toe-to-toe with Costa Rica and, after a goalless first half, saw the only goals of the game scored early after the break. Jerry Bengtson helped Honduras take the lead in the 49th minute only for Denis Marshal to equalize for Costa Rica just seven minutes later. In the penalty shoot out that followed the end of the game it was to be Bengtson who would stamp his mark on the outcome by scoring the goal which clinched Honduras’ place in the semi-finals where they’ll face off against Mexico.