PHOENIX: Mexico’s Gold Cup hopes were dealt a blow on Sunday as they dominated play but could only manage a scoreless draw against Guatemala in their Group C game.
The Mexicans came into the contest hoping to book a berth into the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-finals but instead will have to wait until their next game on Wednesday against Trinidad and Tobago to see whether they advance.
Mexico controlled the play for the majority of the game but Guatemala goalkeeper Paulo Motta made several key stops and charged through the box to take two crosses in injury time that negated scoring chances.
The Mexico-Guatemala 0-0 draw in front of a sold out crowd of 62,900 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona was disappointing for Mexico, who were shutout for the first time in 32 Gold Cup matches.
Hector Herrera came the closest to giving Mexico the lead but his right-footed shot from outside the box in the 86th minute hit the crossbar.
Andres Guardado, in the first half, and Oribe Peralta, in the 75th minute, also had superb chances from close range but each time Motta was there to shut the door.
Guatemala, who have beaten Mexico just twice in the last 42 years, played the final 14 minutes with just 10 men. They are in third place with one point and next face Cuba on Wednesday.
Trinidad and Tobago through after 2-0 win
In the earlier game of the Group C doubleheader, Trinidad and Tobago punched their ticket to the final eight by beating depleted Cuba 2-0.
Cuba always seems to come into the Gold Cup under a dark cloud of defections and this tournament has been no exception.
Cuba, who saw their head coach Raul Gonzalez Triana and five players return to the squad for Sunday’s match after missing Thursday’s 6-0 loss to Mexico due to visa issues, had another player and an assistant coach defect before the Trinidad and Tobago game, reported Fox Sports.
Midfielder Arael Arguellez and assistant coach Walter Benitez joined forward Keiler Garcia who went missing before their first game.
Defender Sheldon Bateau gave Trinidad and Tobago a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute, slotting a shot past Cuba goalkeeper Disovelis Guerra into the back of the net.
Trinidad and Tobago then doubled their lead just before the half. Midfielder Andre Boucaud hammered a side volley from 18 yards out past Guerra and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.
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