SAN DIEGO: Mexico launched their Concacaf Gold Cup title defence with a comfortable 3-1 victory over El Salvador in their Group C opener on Sunday.
A young Mexico side aiming to capture an eighth Gold Cup crown took the first step with goals from Hedgardo Marin, Elias Hernandez and Orbelin Pineda.
Mexico are without the regulars who competed at the Confederations Cup in Russia last month. And manager Juan Carlos Osorio could only watch from a hospitality suite at Qualcomm Stadium as he serves a six-game ban for an outburst directed at Confederations Cup officials.
Colombian Luis Pompilio Paez directed the team from the sideline, and the inexperienced side rose to the challenge offered by a tenacious El Salvador, who responded to Marin’s eighth-minute header of a free kick with Nelson Bonilla’s goal in the 10th.
Hernandez put Mexico ahead again before halftime with a ferocious strike in the 29th. Gallardo lofted a cross from the right and found Hernandez, who turned slightly and rifled a shot past Benji Villalobos. Substitute Orbelin Pineda stretched Mexico’s lead in the 55th. Hernandez fired in a cross from the right and an advancing Villalobos missed it. Pineda, racing towards the left post, tapped the ball towards the open net and it squeezed inside the right post. On Thursday, Mexico will take on Jamaica, who overcame a sluggish first half to beat Curacao 2-0 in the first match of the day’s double-header. — AFP
Concacaf Gold Cup results
Curacao 0 Jamaica 2 (Williams 58, Mattocks 73);
Mexico 3 (Marin 8, E. Hernandez 29, Pineda 55) El Salvador (Bonilla 10)