Mexico won the CONCACAF Cup for the 12th time

July 17, 2023
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Mexico won the CONCACAF Cup for the 12th time

Eight months and two managers after Mexico’s humiliating World Cup exit, the majority of the same players joyfully lifted the CONCACAF Gold Cup amid confetti and boisterous chants on Sunday night.

El Tri’s fortunes have quickly turned around, and their winning goal at SoFi Stadium came on an end-to-end move that was every bit as spectacular.

Mexico won the Gold Cup for the record eighth time with a 1-0 victory over Panama, thanks to late substitute Santiago Giménez’s spectacular dash in the 88th minute.

Orbeln Pineda dribbled away and delivered a fantastic ball into the center circle after Edson lvarez dived to stop Iván Anderson’s cross in the Mexico penalty area. The 22-year-old Giménez of Feyenoord dribbled past Harold Cummings and outraced Cummings and Fidel Escobar into the penalty box.

Giménez scuffed a bouncing left-foot shot past goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera for his fourth international goal and second of the tournament.

“It’s the biggest moment of my career,” Giménez stated. “I just tried to get down the field as quickly as possible.” Throughout the game, we stuck to our beliefs, and they worked flawlessly. Because there were so many strong teams in this event, the outcome was fantastic.”

The goal by Argentina-born Giménez, who had only been on the field for three minutes, sparked wild celebrations in a Southern California stadium filled with fans applauding Mexico’s comeback in this biannual CONCACAF competition. following being ousted in the World Cup group stage for the first time since 1978, Mexico bounced back with a great tournament under interim coach Jaime Lozano, who took over the troubled program barely a month ago following a Nations League loss to the United States.

“Today’s environment was like being in a World Cup,” said Lozano, whose contract is only for the tournament. “It wasn’t the Gold Cup.” I’m dreaming of building a stadium like the one we saw today and providing people with the delight we witnessed. Again, the squad gave their all. We understood we were creating history, and you had to take advantage of these possibilities.”

Mexico are the Gold Cup Champions of 2023

Mexico, which conceded only two goals in its matches, has won the event more times than any other country. The United States has seven Gold Cup championships, while Canada has one.

Giménez’s heroics brought an end to Panama’s amazing Gold Cup journey, which saw the country stun the United States in the quarterfinals to earn its third trip in the final. Los Canaleros were unable to convert many good scoring chances against experienced Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Panama also lost the Gold Cup final against the United States in 2005 and 2013.

“We gave everything we had,” stated coach Thomas Christiansen via translator. “The crew died on their feet. There is nothing I can say about my players that I regret. When they are runners-up, some people take their (postgame) medals, but I reminded them they should be proud of their accomplishments because of the soccer they played.”

While the Gold Cup is renowned for producing half-strength national teams, Mexico began the final with eight players who had played in the World Cup last year.

Mexico dominated play for the majority of the first half, with 14 shots, but Panama held firm. Henry Martn appeared to put Mexico ahead with a close-range goal in the 33rd minute, but a video review several minutes later declared him offside.

Pineda and Martn both had good chances in the 43rd minute, but Mosquera saved both of their point-blank attempts.

Soon after halftime, Panama had its greatest goal chance, but Alberto Quintero’s header went just wide of the far post. In the 87th minute, Edgar Bárcenas got another wonderful chance but shot wide from beyond the area.

Moments later, Giménez scored his first goal for Mexico, giving supporters hope that he will be the focal point of a new generation of Mexican talent.

Lozano, who led Mexico’s Olympic squad to a bronze medal in Tokyo two years ago, was appointed to oversee the Gold Cup campaign by Juan Carlos Rodrguez, who took over as president of the Mexican Football Federation just a month ago. Mexico’s World Cup failure led to the retirement of coach Tata Martino and the brief stint of Diego Cocca before the arrival of Lozano, who relied heavily on the core of his Olympic team for the Gold Cup.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino thanked Lozano on stage and wished him luck for the 2026 World Cup cycle, oblivious to the fact that Lozano’s contract had expired.

“I would love to be here,” remarked Lozano. “It’s a dream to lead my national team in the World Cup, especially one hosted by Mexico and (the United States and Canada).” If it is me, I will have to put in a lot of effort with my coaching team. If it isn’t me, I’ll support the squad.”

Anyone who assumed the absence of the hosts’ national team would result in an underwhelming Gold Cup final is unfamiliar with Southern California: The sellout audience south of downtown Los Angeles was dominated by fans of El Tri, which is recognized as the home team whenever it plays in this area – even when it is playing against the American club.

Only a month after disgruntled Mexican supporters skipped the Nations League third-place match against Panama in Las Vegas, that fervent fan base returned in full force to the Los Angeles Rams’ opulent NFL stadium.

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