Mexico edge El Salvador to top Group A
Published on 18 July 2021
#11 Luis Rodriguez of Mexico being congratulated by teammates after scoring in the 26th minute to give his team the lead. (Photo: Concacaf Media)
DALLAS, Texas (July 18, 2021)—Defending champions Mexico finished at the top of Group A and narrowly defeated El Salvador thanks to a lone conversation from Luis Rodriguez when the sides met at the famous Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas on Sunday night for Gold Cup action.
The fans came out in their respective colors to rally around their teams. Mexico led with intent in the early stages and would soon find a breakthrough in the 26th minute when Rodriguez received a ball behind the defense from Hector Herrera. He cut inside to get past his marker and his left-footed shot towards goal was helped on by the slightest of deflections from defender Ronald Rodriguez.
Rogelio Funes Mori had a chance to double the lead in the 28th minute after Orbelin Penida played him behind the defense but El Salvador’s goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez came up with a big save to keep his team in it.
Herrera, with a free kick in the 29th minute, nearly doubled the lead but his effort went inches to the wrong side of the post much to the delight of the El Salvadorian fans.
The first half ended 1-0 with El Salvador still having a chance to change the outcome of the game.
In minute 47 defender Mexico’s Carlos Salcedo picked off a pass in midfield and was afforded time and space to run into and unleashed a venomous strike from outside the 18-yard box but it sailed just wide of the goal. The action continued with Mexico probing for the goal to put the game out of El Salvador’s reach.
Mario Gonzalez was called upon once again when Herrera threaded one through for Funes-Mori into the box, but saw his shot saved by the El Salvador keeper who was having quite a night between the sticks.
Salvador worked for a chance in the 62nd minute when Narciso Orellana pressured to win the ball high up the pitch. This allowed Joaquin Rivas to let fly a left-footed strike, but the Mexican goalie, Alfredo Talavera, made a big save.
Uncertainty and a mistake from the El Salvador defense would see Pineda in on goal in the 66th minute, but there was good awareness and timing from Gonzalez, who came out to make the save with his feet.
El Salvador had their best chance of the game in the 71st minute with a beautifully struck free kick from Alexander Larin. His effort left the goalkeeper rooted to the ground and was only be denied by the woodwork.
Mexico kept pressing, but the one goal early on was enough to see them top the group and advance to the quarterfinals. El Salvador, though on the losing end on the night, did enough in their first two encounters to book a passage to the next round as well.