Spectators at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois were treated to a twelve-goal attacking spectacle during the final round of Group A matches at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. El Salvador commenced the evening with a 6-1 thrashing of Cuba, keeping their hopes of advancing to the knockout round well and truly alive, while Mexico followed-up that result with a 4-1 victory over Costa Rica to seal top spot in Group A.
El Salvador 6-1 Cuba
Mexico 4-1 Costa Rica
The day replayed – Cuba got off to a promising start against a nerve-ridden El Salvador side. An unmarked Marcel Hernandez headed wide in the third minute, but the Salvadorans, not to be denied another win, were the first to break through after a mix-up among the Cuban defence. Proving again to be El Salvador’s brightest offensive target, Rodolfo Zelaya snuck in the first goal of the night and proceeded to have a hand in three more goals for the Central Americans – scoring one and assisting two others. While Cuba appeared to be back in the game at the restart, a flurry of two goals in three minutes from El Salvador shattered their confidence. And, despite a late consolation goal from Yenier Marquez, El Salvador were happy to stay hot on the heels of Costa Rica and added two more to finish the match with six.
Already with a last-eight ticket in hand, Mexico did not hit the brake in their final group match against Costa Rica. Within the first ten minutes, the Mexicans were pummelling Los Ticos’ defence with several attacks. Andres Guardado provided excellent service from the left-wing, and although Javier Chicharito Hernandez misfired a few chances, captain Rafael Marquez headed home to put the group leaders ahead. With no intentions of stalling their attack, Guardado scored a double, putting El Tri three up on a stunned Costa Rica side before the break. After the restart, Mexico were content with their four-goal cushion, but Los Ticos were keen to stop the bleeding and finally broke through with a goal of their own from substitute Marco Urena. And, while it was the first goal conceded by the Mexicans at the tournament, the result left them Group A winners and Costa Rica hanging onto second by a thread.
28 – With convincing victories for Mexico in all three group outings, a 5-0 victory for Costa Rica to kick-off the campaign, and six goals for El Salvador tonight, Group A showcased some of the most prolific attacking displays throughout the group stage. A total of 28 goals were scored between the three squads, and if Cuba is entered into the equation the number is 29.
Player of the day
Rodolfo Zelaya (El Salvador)
If El Salvador’s chances of progression seemed slim prior to Sunday’s result, Zelaya quickly dispelled that notion as he put the Salvadorans ahead within the first quarter of an hour. The 22-year-old, who had scored El Salvador’s goal in a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica on Friday, continued to star on the frontline adding two assists and two goals to his group play tally.
Goal of the day
Mexico-Costa Rica, Andres Guardado (19’)
Just two minutes after an unmarked Rafael Marquez nodded home, Guardado gave the explosive Soldier Field crowd more to cheer about. It would be the first of two goals for the midfielder, as Israel Castro found Guardado lurking just inside the area. The receiving Guardado hit a remarkable long-range volley into the far-upper corner past an outstretched Keylor Navas, who barely got a finger to it.
Quote of the day
"We're waiting on the other results. Hopefully we were able to get the goals to move forward." Rodolfo Zelaya, El Salvador forward
In a match that will determine the first-place finishers in Group B, already quarter-finalists Jamaica take on Honduras on Monday 13 June at Red Bull Arena. While Guatemala, who face Grenada in the night’s earlier match, are still in contention to advance past the group stage, Honduras’s 7-1 result over Grenada on Friday provided them with all the momentum to likely book their place alongside Jamaica in the last eight.
Have your say
With several goals to choose from in nearly every Group A match, which one was your favourite?