Nelson Bonilla's goal in first-half stoppage time was the difference to help lift El Salvador to a 1-0 win over Curacao In the Concacaf Gold Cup Group C opener at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica Monday night.
It was the first Gold Cup match ever played in the Caribbean ahead of Jamaica hosting Honduras in the second match of the doubleheader.
Despite playing on the back foot for much of the first half, El Salvador went into the halftime break with the lead thanks to Bonilla, the Bangkok United forward.
Oscar Ceren received a long diagonal ball, turned toward the net and played to Bonilla. The ball took a slight deflection off Curacao defender Cuco Martina’s foot and fell right to Bonilla, who fired low and inside the far post.
El Salvador take the lead!!!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 17, 2019
With the last kick of the first half Nelson Bonilla put El Salvador on 🔝 pic.twitter.com/gf2hVucWQu
Curacao’s best chances of the first half came off set pieces to the head of Leandro Bacuna, but the midfielder put a looping header over the bar in the 30th minute and then nodded his shot wide from the edge of the six after a short corner played by Gevaro Nepomuceno.
Prior to Bonilla’s goal, the only other scoring attempt for El Salvador came in the 27th minute when Jonathan Jimenez forced Curacao goalkeeper Eloy Room to parry over the net for a corner kick.
Andres Flores had two cracks to double the La Selecta lead after the hour mark, but his low shot from 24 yards out was cleared off the post by Gino van Kessel and a minute later the Portland Timbers midfielder's rising blast was saved by Room.
Ten minutes from full time, Juan Carlos Portillo hammered a close-range shot off the near post for an El Salvador corner kick. Two minutes later, Room dived to his left to deny Bonilla his brace.
- 45’+1’ — SLV — Nelson Bonilla
- THE BIG PICTURE: It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. El Salvador defended with numbers, capitalized when their chance came and came away with all three points. Curacao will be disappointed for never truly testing El Salvador goalkeeper Henry Hernandez.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Speaking of Hernandez, he came closer to scoring on his own goal than any Curacao player.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Flores was the maestro in the El Salvador midfield, connecting on 91 percent of his 36 passes and threatened with both of his shots on frame in the second half.
- SLV: Friday, June 21 vs. Jamaica (7:00 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN, FOX Sports GO, TSN GO)
- CUW: Friday, June 21 vs. Honduras (9:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN, TSN2, FOX Sports GO)