July 8, 2019 / 3:33 AM / 4 months ago

Dos Santos powers Mexico to eighth Gold Cup title

(Reuters) - Mexico’s Jonathan dos Santos scored in the 73rd minute to give his side a 1-0 win over the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Sunday.

Jul 7, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Mexico players celebrate after defeating the United States in the championship match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament at Soldier Field. Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The victory over the defending champions at Chicago’s Soldier Field earned Mexico a record-extending eighth title at the biennial tournament, which crowns the continental champions of North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

“This was what we came here for” said Mexico’s Andres Guardado. “We did it and in an unforgettable setting. We’re very happy. The whole team was spectacular.”

Mexico took control midway through the second half and got their goal when Dos Santos received a back-heel pass from Raul Jimenez and fired home off the underside of the bar.

The United States had a series of corners late in the game and in the 87th minute one delivery caused havoc in the Mexico box but Hector Moreno made a big block with his face to preserve their lead.

The hosts threw everyone forward in the two minutes of stoppage time but Mexico held firm to reclaim the title they last won in 2015.

“I thought we had a good start to the game. If anything the beginning of the second half wasn’t what it needed to be,” said American midfielder Michael Bradley.

“They were able to get some momentum and got their goal. Tough way to lose.”

The game got off to a frenetic start and it was the United States who had the better chances early on while Mexico, who entered the tournament as favourites, looked shaky at the back as they weathered the early storm.

Christian Pulisic nearly opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he used his speed to break in alone after a smart through ball from Jozy Altidore but was denied by a brilliant save from Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Moments later Tim Ream found Altidore with a ball over the top and the striker, with only Ochoa to beat, put his left-footed effort wide.

Mexico’s best chance of the half came in the 16th minute when Guardado looked ready to tap home a cross from the left only for Paul Arriola to arrive out of nowhere and put him off at the last second.

Tempers flared after the break when Moreno pushed Altidore over and then dropped onto his back. American Weston McKennie quickly jumped in and several players converged but no cards were issued.

A U.S. corner in the 51st minute saw Jordan Morris power a header on target but Guardado headed the ball off the line. McKennie’s follow-up shot was then blocked by a sea of bodies and while the Americans claimed handball the referee waved away the appeals.

Mexico suddenly moved up a gear and after creating a number of chances Dos Santos finally broke the deadlock to set his side on their way to victory.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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