LOS ANGELES: The United States survived two missed penalties to beat Nicaragua 3-0 in Cleveland on Saturday and reach the Gold Cup quarterfinals as winners of Group B.
Goals from Joe Corona, Kelyn Rowe and Matt Miazga lifted the Americans against a lively Nicaragua side.
Bruce Arena’s men went into the contest needing a three-goal win to top the group after Panama’s 3-0 win over Martinique in the opening match of the day’s double-header.
For a time it looked as if they wouldn’t get there, but Chelsea defender Miazga’s 88th minute header spared the Americans from a quarterfinal date with dangerous Costa Rica. “I would think that you could say we wasted some opportunities, and made it pretty difficult on ourselves,” said Arena, who changed all 11 starters from the side that beat minnows Martinique on Wednesday.
“However, in the end I’m pretty proud of our team that they kept battling, and they knew that they needed three goals in the game today and they managed to do it in the end.”
The United States threatened early as Rowe fired straight at Nicaragua keeper Justo Lorente in the seventh minute.
Dom Dwyer and Zusi also went close, the latter surging into the box but firing straight at Lorente.
It was Corona who grabbed the opener in the 36th minute.
They doubled the advantage in the 56th, when Rowe, played through by Bedoya, beat Lorente for his first international goal.
But two second-half chances from the spot went begging.
Dwyer’s penalty attempt, after the English-born striker was brought down in the box, was easily saved by Lorente.
After Rowe’s goal, a Daniel Cadena handball gave the American’s another chance, but Corona’s effort was also saved.
The US and Panama both finished group play on seven points, but the US took the group with seven goals-for to Panama’s six. The Panamanians struck late in the first half and added two goals in the second in their victory over Martinique, who finished third in the group on three points. — AFP
Concacaf Gold Cup results
Panama 3 (Murillo 44, Arroyo 60, Torres 67) Martinique 0
Nicaragua 0 United States 3 (Corona 36, Rowe 56, Miazga 88)