CONCACAF: Joy of Six for Mexico in Gold Cup (+video)
Mexico came from two goals down to defeat tournament hosts United States 4-2 in a pulsating 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final in the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Saturday. After Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan had given the home side a two goal lead after just 23 minutes the Mexicans bounced back in fine fashion, restoring parity in the first half before taking command of the game in the second period.
After Mexico had beaten the Americans by a thumping 5-0 score line in the 2009 Gold Cup final, the United States were not only determined to avoid a repeat but also hoped to claim the Gold Cup title for the first time in four years. Mexico, on the other hand, had a sixth Gold Cup title in mind and a second consecutive title on Saturday would prove to be a perfect confidence booster ahead of their Copa America challenge which begins in Argentina on July 1st. An expectant crowd of 93,000, most of whom came from the vast Hispanic community in the United States and were supporting Mexico, were surprised to see the hosts take a quick-fire two goal lead. Michael Bradley headed home after just eight minutes to give the USA a perfect start which was followed up by a neat finish from captain Donovan in an opening 25 minutes in which the visitors were stunned to be two goals down so early. However Pablo Barrera and Andrés Guardado were on hand to help Mexico go in at the break tied at 2-2 and a fascinating second half awaited all of those privileged to be in the stadium.
The second half was every bit as open as the first half with both teams determined to go forward and with very few fouls littering the game. It didn’t take long for the Mexicans to finally grab a stranglehold of the game after Barrera scored his second to give his team the lead for the first time in the match. The game was settled with a little under quarter of an hour left to play after Giovani Dos Santos scored the most wonderful winning goal, evading the challenges of a number of defenders in the box and chipping the ball into Tim Howard’s top left-hand corner. The two goal margin proved difficult for the Americans to pull back although, to their credit, they did have a couple of attempts late on but it wasn’t to be yet again for the Stars and Stripes. Mexico’s Javier Hernández won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award despite not adding to the seven goals he’d already chalked up in the tournament.
Mexico’s reward for winning the Gold Cup is a place in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup tournament in Brazil.