Mexico outlasts Haiti 1-0 in Gold Cup semifinals
Mexico outlasts Haiti 1-0 in Gold Cup semifinals: Mexico played with style, dominated the ball, avoided some counters of Haiti.
El Tri played a complete game except for one area: Finishing.
Unable to score multiple golden opportunities, Mexico needed Raúl Jiménez’s 93rd-minute goal to finish Haiti’s impressive gold medal game in the semi-finals with a 1-0 win on Tuesday night.
“We are very pleased with the efforts of the players,” said Mexico’s assistant coach Jorge Theiler, through a translator. “Mexico goes to the final and that’s what counts.”
Mexico dominates the possession of the ball, but can not find a way to put the finishing touches at the end of Haiti, which allows the Grenadiers to stay and gain confidence while playing a tie, virgin and regulatory.
Jiménez was sanctioned at the start of extra time after Hervé Bazile hit him over the penalty area. Jimenez slowly played the penalty, placing it behind Jhony Placide after the Haitian goalkeeper threw himself to his right to allow the audience to get up.
El Tri will face the reigning champion, the United States or Jamaica, in Sunday’s final at Soldier Field in Chicago.
What we did
“We continued to do what we did and we showed a lot of character,” said Mexican defender Carlos Salcedo. “There were games where we could do a lot of what we wanted and others where we could not, that’s what these tournaments look like, we did what we had to do.”
Haiti had several good chances at the counter after absorbing pressure from Mexico, but could not throw a shot into the goal in the first semi-final of the Gold Cup.
The Grenadiers had the last chance to equalize in the 119th minute, but Mikeal Gabriel Cantave’s shot hit the crossbar and appeared in the air in the direction of Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
“We knew Mexico would probably dominate possession of the ball,” said Haitian coach Marc Collat through a translator. “We wanted to keep it as long as possible and take advantage of our opportunities, but unfortunately we could not enjoy it.”
Mexico, seven-time Gold Cup champion, has come to the desert as a big favorite against the young and faithful Haitian team.
With the No. 101 position in the world, Haiti has not succumbed to the pressure of playing its first semi-final Gold Cup or facing powerful Mexico in front of 64 000 spectators, which gave him the impression to be a home match for El Tri.
Haiti defeated Canada in the semi-finals to win its biggest victory since qualifying for the 1974 World Cup and did not retire from Mexico, resisting the constant pressure and counterattack of El Tri when the opportunity arose.
Gerardo Martino, the head coach, was suspended after collecting two yellow cards. Mexico had difficulty finishing in the first period despite the many possibilities. Placide also made a diving stop at Jimenez’s head at the end of the half to keep the Grenadiers tied at half-time.
In the 67th minute, Placide made another spectacular save by eliminating Andrés Guardado’s free-kick off the box. Mexico continued to find that their chances of scoring were empty.
“That’s what we do, we fight,” said Haitian defender Andrew Jean Baptiste.
Haiti has failed in three previous attempts
Haiti has failed in three previous attempts to defeat the quarter-finals of the Gold Cup, including a defeat against Mexico in 2009.
The Grenadiers, with its combination of young players born in countries around the world, overcame language barriers (they speak all Creole, Portuguese) to make a monumental breakthrough to inspire a country that is not yet fully recovered from a massive earthquake in 2011.
Haiti won their group with an impressive victory against Costa Rica and rebounded after a two-goal deficit at half-time to beat Canada 3-2 to reach their first semi-final of the Gold Cup.
Haiti’s confidence was maintained in its match against El Tri.
Mexico, which beat Costa Rica on penalties in the quarter-finals, used its control play to put pressure on Haiti in the first half. But the Grenadiers played a game of counter-attack and direct attack to create their own opportunities.
As Mexico could not finish, Haiti seemed to gain confidence as the match continued.
The Grenadiers fought for a goalless draw in regulation, but his dream career ended with a penalty and a baton in overtime.