Photo: Mexico celebrate their 7th CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph after defeating Jamaica 3-1 in the finals last night in Philadelphia.
Mexico claimed their 7th hold on the CONCACAF Gold Cup (10th cumulative – CONCACAF Championships and CONCACAF Gold Cups) when they saw off first time finalists Jamaica 3-1 in a sold out Lincoln Financial Field Stadium on Sunday.
El Tri had struggled to score goals in the knock-out stages of the competition and had to soak up quite a bit of pressure from the Reggae Boyz in the opening stages of the game before captain Andres Guardado struck just after half an hour. Two more goals early in the second half ended the game as a contest before second half substitute Darren Mattocks grabbed a consolation for Jamaica.
The Winfired Schafer coached team took the game to their more illustrious opponents from the opening whistle, creating a number of half chances from which they should have taken the lead. Midfielder Jobi McAnuff set the tone early, getting stuck into two quick tackles which let the Mexicans know they would be in for a fight. Using their speed, strength and athleticism, the Reggae Boyz was quicker to the ball and had the Mexican pinned into their own half early on.
The best opportunity of the opening stages came when the pugnacious Kemar Lawrence was pulled down on the edge of the area following one of his trademark overlapping runs. A curling free kick to the far post from Captain Rodolph Austin was just out of the reach of a sea of heads when the slightest of touches would have guided the ball home.
Jamaica continued to attack down both flanks, especially through the pair of McAnuff down the left and Garath McLeary down the right but were unable to create any clear cut chances. It took Guardado nineteen minutes to register his first effort on target for Mexico, a tame header that was easily handled by Ryan Thompson in goal; such was the dominance of Jamaica.
But the experience of the CONCACAF giants Mexico soon came to the fore as they took over the contest and started putting their opponents under pressure. Oribe Peralta almost put Mexico ahead but a desperate lunge from Lawrence kept the score at 0-0. Shortly after, Thompson had to be at his best to steer a low header from Jesus Corona around the post.
In the 30th minute, Corona and Peralta combined in another sweeping move to create an opening, but Corona was unable to clear his feet and scooped his effort over the crossbar with Thompson at his mercy. The writing was on the wall and a minute later, Guardado scored a beautiful volley with a one-time side footed effort, low and to the right of Thompson who could do nothing about it.
Adrian Mariappa’s marauding run down the right flank and ball across the face of goal caused problems for the Mexicans which Reyes had to put behind for a corner. That was as close as Jamaica came to scoring after they fell behind.
Tragedy struck for the Caribbean team almost immediately after the restart. Corona stole the ball from Anthony Hector close to goal, and with the defenders backing off of him fired a low grounder into the left corner to make it 2-0 with less than two minutes gone on the second half clock.
Facing a mountain to climb, the Boyz battled bravely and McAnuff tried to steer one past the Mexican keeper after good possession by Jamaica around their opponent’s box.
The game was ended as a contest when Hector made his second mistake of the game. Unable to sort out his feet, the defender failed to clear an innocuous right sided cross and the ball bobbled through his legs and fell kindly to Peralta who made no mistake from close range.
Jamaica to their credit kept working and grabbed a consolation goal through Vancouver Whitecaps striker, Darren Mattocks. Brought into the game a minute before Jamaica went 3 goals down, Mattocks was played in by the hard working McAnuff just inside the box on the left side and he cut inside his marker before blasting the ball home to make it 3-1.
Mexico should have made it 4-1 on the stroke of full time but they overplayed the ball inside the box and were eventually denied by the fearless Lawrence who threw his body at the ball yet again. It would have been a cruel score-line against a team that had shown maturity in their first Gold Cup final.