USA were the first team to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2013 from Group C with a 4-1 defeat of Cuba at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Costa Rica joined the Americans shortly thereafter with their 1-0 win over Belize.
Cuba took a surprising first-half lead over USA in the 36th minute when Ariel Martinez beat Edgar Castillo to the bi-line and served a lovely ball back to Jose Ciprian who fired past a helpless Nick Rimando. However, right at the stroke of half-time Castillo made up for his poor defensive posture when he drew a penalty that Landon Donovan successfully converted to put the teams level heading into the break.
The final 45 minutes belong exclusively to the United States, and the Americans finally edged ahead in the 57th minute with a curling strike from Joe Corona that beat a diving Odelin Molina at the far post for Corona’s first international goal.
Chris Wondolowski entered the match in the 58th minute for USA and quickly extended the Americans’ lead eight minutes later with a deft touch to beat Molina from six yards off a cross from Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman. Wondolowski bagged his brace in the 85th minute with a simple tap-in to put the game completely out of reach.
USA will face Costa Rica in the final group stage match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but having already secured passage to the quarter-finals, their sights will be set on Sunday 21 July’s clash at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.
And Costa Rica will also direct their attention to the quarter-finals after dispatching a pesky Belize side 1-0, with Los Ticos only able to claim the win through a Dalton Eiley own goal in the 49th minute. Costa Rica maintained a majority of the possession throughout the match and had plenty of chances, but the Belize backline held up far better than in their 6-1 defeat to USA four days earlier.
Belize will face Cuba on Tuesday in their final CONCACAF Gold Cup 2013 match with a chance to sneak into the quarter-finals as a third-place finisher.