Mexico have won Group A in the Concacaf Gold Cup, courtesy of a 1-0 victory in an entertaining and highly competitive match against El Salvador at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on Sunday.
Luis Alfonso Rodríguez scored what stood as the game's only goal to pace El Tri, although both sides had plenty of other chances in a back-and-forth match in front of a raucous crowd in which both countries were well represented. With the result, Mexico vaulted to the top of the group with seven points from its three Group Stage matches, while El Salvador settled for a runner-up finish with six points after emerging victorious in each of their first two matches.
The match was action packed from the get-go, with El Tri striking for the eventual winner in the 26th minute through a finish from Rodriguez. The Tigres UANL outside back made a charging run down the ride side before running onto a feed from Héctor Herrera, making one cut and uncorking a shot that took a deflection before settling into the back of the net.
The frantic, end-to-end pace would continue in the aftermath of the goal, with Mexico getting another good chance just two minutes later off a blistering shot from Rogelio Funes Mori that forced El Salvador goalkeeper Mario González into a sprawling two-handed save that kept his team within one goal into the halftime break. Funes Mori had another golden opportunity just on the other side of the halftime whistle, but the Monterrey striker was denied again by another big save from Gonzalez, after a perfect through ball from Herrera set up the chance.
El Salvador came agonizingly close to a pair of second-half equalizers, first just after the hour-mark when a giveaway at the back by Mexico set Joaquin Rivas up with a shot that forced Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera into a diving save. Joshua Pérez then had a chance to cash home the rebound, but saw the shot blocked. Alexander Larín also came inches away from a leveler on 70 minutes off a bending free kick that looked bound for the top corner of the Mexico goal, but the attempt wound up glancing off the post.
- 26' —MEX — Luis Alfonso Rodríguez
- THE BIG PICTURE: Mexico got everything they could handle, but it turned out to be enough to emerge victorious from group play in a game where the Concacaf vibes were strong and the Cotton Bowl crowd provided an electric atmosphere. El Tri have yet to look their best so far, but are still very much a tournament frontrunner going into the knockout phase. On the other side, keep an eye on this Hugo Perez-led El Salvador group, which is playing really good soccer and emerged as one of the surprise teams of this tournament despite coming out on the short end of this result.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: This 26th-minute strike from Rodríguez turned out to be enough to see Mexico to the top of the group.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Héctor Herrera was at the center of most of the danger on the night for Mexico, dropping a bunch of dimes that left him arguably unlucky to not have had more than the one assist.
- MEX: Saturday, July 24 vs. Runner-up Group D | 10 pm ET | FS1 | Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals
- SLV: Saturday, July 24 vs. Winner Group D | 7:30 pm ET | FS1 | Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals