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Mexico secures spot in Gold Cup quarterfinals after win over Martinique in Charlotte

Mexico’s Raul Jimenez, left, taps the ball into the goal past Martinique goaltender Loic Chauvet during the Group A finale of the 2019 Gold Cup at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sunday.
Mexico’s Raul Jimenez, left, taps the ball into the goal past Martinique goaltender Loic Chauvet during the Group A finale of the 2019 Gold Cup at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sunday. The Charlotte Observer

Mexico closed out group play in the 2019 Gold Cup with a 3-2 victory over Martinique in front of a Bank of Stadium crowd of 59,283 Sunday.

El Tri, with three wins and nine points, is the only unbeaten team in Group A; Canada (2-1, six points) also advanced after a 7-0 victory over Cuba. Canada’s only loss was to Mexico. Both teams now head to Houston for quarterfinal matches on Saturday.

The first half was even in terms of playing, despite Mexico dominating possession with accurate passes. Uriel Antuna, Mexico’s leading scorer, got his fourth goal of the tournament in the 29th minute, and the score remained 1-0 through halftime. In the second half, things started to click for Martinique.

Forward Kevin Parsemain curved his free kick into the upper right corner of the Mexico goal in the 56th minute, evening the score at 1-all. Mexico forward Raul Jimenez quickly answered with a goal of his own in the 61st minute, edging El Tri ahead 2-1. Jimenez finished with five shots, one goal, one assist and 85 percent pass accuracy.

Defender Fernando Navarro scored next after assisting on Jimenez’s goal. Martinique didn’t let up on its offensive pressure. Jordy Delem pushed the Caribbean team to its second goal in the 84th minute, but it wasn’t enough and their, ending their Gold Cup run with one win and three points.

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Three who mattered

Uriel Antuna: The LA Galaxy forward, on loan from English Premier League champion Manchester City, scored the opening goal — his fourth of the tournament.

Kevin Parsemain: The forward leveled the playing field for Martinique. Parsemain scored off a free kick, bending the ball into the upper right corner just out of goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco’s reach.

Fernando Navarro: After assisting on Raul Jimenez’s goal that gave Mexico a 2-1 lead, the Leon defender scored a goal of his own in the 72nd minute, celebrating with acrobatic flips. His goal marks the 15th goal scored by a Mexican defender in the Gold Cup.

Observations

Mexico now has a tournament-high 13 goals. It scored just six goals in five games during the 2017 tournament, which the U.S. won. Mexico also has the most goals in Gold Cup history at 168. However, based on its first-half performance, Martinique gave Mexico trouble as the North American team scored one goal. The Caribbean team kept Mexico on its toes.

Mexico dominated Martinique with 94 percent passing accuracy and had 254 complete passes in the first half with only 15 incomplete. Martinique only had 67 complete passes and 18 incomplete with a passing accuracy of 79 percent.

Despite facing an undefeated opponent, Martinique didn’t go down without a fight. Mexico dominated the passing game, but Martinique held a solid defensive front to force the North American team to pass more. The Caribbean team also shut down the left side, restricting Mexico’s left offensive attacks.

Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who guided Atlanta United to the 2018 Major League Soccer championship, has a record of 7-0-0 as Mexico’s head coach. His team has scored 26 goals and conceded nine between international friendlies and Gold Cup.

Mexico recorded 536 passes overall with a pass accuracy of 89 percent to Martinique’s 277 and 75 percent.

Worth mentioning

Mexico leads the Gold Cup series 3-0 over Martinique with 15 goals for and three against.

Martino received a yellow card with less than four minutes of regulation play left.

Mexico’s midfielder Andres Guardado (91) surpassed American Landon Donovan (90) as the player with most wins among CONCACAF teams.

What’s next

Mexico, the Group A winner, will next face the Group B runner-up — currently Haiti — in the late quarterfinal match in Houston on Saturday. Canada, the Group A runner-up, will face the Group B winner — Costa Rica, for now — at 7 p.m. Saturday in Houston. The remaining quarterfinals will be in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Major League Soccer announced that they're expanding to 30 teams. The Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, said he wants to push things forward for the city.

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