• Favourites victorious in opening Gold Cup quarter-finals
  • Costa Rica end semi-final drought by edging neighbours Panama
  • Veterans play key role as hosts USA see off El Salvador  

Costa Rica and USA are through to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals after wins over Panama and El Salvador respectively on Wednesday. Neither of the victors overly impressed in what were two disjointed contests on a sweltering evening in Philadelphia, ahead of the pair’s semi-final match-up in Arlington, Texas on Saturday.

The games
Costa Rica 1-0 Panama
USA 2-0 El Salvador

Low-key Los Ticos outlast neighbours
Favourites Costa Rica edged victory over their Central American neighbours, but it is a match that will not live long in the memory. It was a stop-start contest throughout with the only goal arriving 13 minutes from full time. A low-key first half barely saw either goalkeeper called into action. Somewhat appropriately, given the lack of goalscoring opportunities, it was an own goal that decided matters. Panama midfielder Anibal Godoy could only steer David Guzman’s dangerous curling free-kick past his own goalkeeper from near the penalty spot.

Refreshed Stars and Stripes too strong
Goals within a six-minute spell late in the first half from defenders Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj were enough for hosts USA to earn victory. El Salvador weren’t without their chances, however, and were unlucky not to score at least once against a shaky defence. USA coach Bruce Arena made 11 changes for the second straight match, including five experienced players for the knockout stage. And it was those veterans who set-up both goals. Michael Bradley’s free-kick was headed home by Gonzalez, while Clint Dempsey expertly found Lichaj who was rewarded for a smart run behind his marker.

The numbers
8
– Costa Rica’s victory ended a surprisingly long eight-year absence from the Gold Cup semi-finals. Los Ticos will feature in their first last-four match since 2009, having suffered a quarter-final exit in each of the past three tournaments. Panama, in contrast, had featured in three semi-finals over the past eight years.

135 – Evergreen forward Clint Dempsey collected his 135th cap against El Salvador to pass Jeff Agoos and sit third on USA’s all-time list. Cobi Jones heads the list with 164 appearances for the Stars and Stripes. Dempsey also needs just one goal to equal Landon Donovan’s national record of 57.

Coming up
Quarter-finals
Thursday 20 July
Mexico v Honduras
Jamaica v Canada
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale

Semi-finals
Saturday 22 July
Costa Rica v USA
AT&T Stadium, Arlington

Sunday 23 July
Winner Mexico/Honduras v winner Jamaica/Canada
Rose Bowl, Pasadena

Final
Wednesday 26 July
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara