Mexico survived a spirited challenge from an already-eliminated Curacao side at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Sunday night, winning 2-0 via well-taken goals from Angel Sepulveda and Edson Alvarez to claim first place in Gold Cup Group C and advance to a quarterfinal meeting with Honduras in Arizona.
But the scoreline only tells part of the story. Despite their statistical superiority, El Tri were dominated by the island underdogs at several stages of the end-to-end clash. Curacao hit the woodwork, forced some sterling saves out of goalkeeper Jesus Corona and had a strong shout for a first-half penalty kick go unrequited.
- 22' – MEX – Angel Sepulveda Watch
- 90+1' – MEX – Edson Alvarez
- JESUS SAVES: For years Corona has vied with Guillermo Ochoa for El Tri's starting 'keeper role, and while his inclusion in this Gold Cup roster would suggest coach Juan Carlos Osorio does not view him as the No. 1 choice at present, he undoubtedly boosted his prospects on Sunday. The Cruz Azul shotstopper made four saves, including two stunning stops to keep Mexico ahead:
- ISLAND ORANJE: Curacao exit their first Gold Cup winless, pointless and goalless. But the Dutch island were a thrill to watch at times, especially when they calmly passed around and through Mexico's high pressure and raced into transition on Sunday. With a little more luck and better finishing by the likes of Gino van Kessel and Leandro Bacuna, who took seven shots between them, they could well have pulled off a mammoth upset in the Alamo City.
- WATCH THIS ANGEL: Sepulveda's goal continues a fairytale rise to prominence for the Morelia striker, who grew up in the remote community of Apatzingan, Michoacan and had to navigate his path to a professional career amid an extended period of drug-related violence in the region. He scored in his El Tri debut, a World Cup qualifying win over El Salvador last fall, and may be bound for even bigger and better things.
- CUR: Eliminated
- MEX: Thursday, July 20 vs. Honduras (10:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN in US, TSN GO in Canada)