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Guatemala hold Mexico in Gold Cup

mexGLENDALE: The Mexican national soccer team endured a night of frustration in front of tens of thousands of its fans. The end result was a 0-0 tie with Guatemala on Sunday night in the CONCACAF Gold Cup match. “We tried. We had the ball hit the post,” Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said. “It’s frustrating because we didn’t win. But the team got shots on goal, we had control. That’s just what happens when you are not on the side of luck.”

A capacity crowd of 62,910 packed University of Phoenix Stadium, almost all of the fans decked out in the red, white or green colors of Mexico. They booed heartily when the game came to an end, except for a tiny contingent of Guatemala fans, who cheered as if it was a victory. “We’re very happy and for us it’s a magnificent result,”

Guatemala coach Ivan Sopegno said. “We got a result we can be proud of for ourselves and the people of Guatemala.” Mexico is 1-0-1 in Group C competition, Guatemala 0-1-1. Mexico plays Trinidad and Tobago (2-0) tomorrow in Charlotte, North Carolina. Guatemala faces Cuba (0-2). “In reality, the team played well,” Herrera said. “ We controlled the ball and knew what we were doing left, right and middle of the pitch. We had a lot of shots, it’s just that nothing happened. It’s a situation where we couldn’t score but I’m fine with the way we played.”

Nearly all of the game was played in Mexico’s offensive end of the field. Giovani Dos Santos’ shot that bounced off the crossbar exemplified the team’s woes. “It was a difficult game,” Mexico forward Oriba Peralta. “We had some bad luck, but we’ll try to get better for the next game.” The fans had shouted “Gio! Gio!” before Herrera finally sent Dos Santos into the game in the 82nd minute. Five minutes later, Dos Santos slammed a shot from in front of the net just outside the penalty area but it ricocheted off the crossbar.

It was one of a handful of near misses for Mexico, which finished with four shots on goal. Guatemala had no shots on goal and really only one opportunity that came close. It came early, when Mexico turned the ball over at midfield. Guatemala’s Minor Lopez got the ball in front of the net but his kick only grazed it. Still, it bounced just outside of the goal.

The rest of the game, Guatemala settled for playing defense. Mexico couldn’t score even with a man advantage when Jose Contreras drew a red card, for his second yellow, in the 77th minute. Guatemala slowed the game even more in the four minutes of extra time. When fans thought Carlos Vela had been fouled late in the game for what would have been a penalty kick, and none was called, many tossed their hats from the upper deck of University of Phoenix Stadium in protest.

Mexico had two other near misses. In the 36th minute, Peralta sent a cross to team captain Andres Guardado in front of the net, but Guatemala keeper Paulo Motta charged toward the ball and deflected Guardado’s left-footed attempt. Much later, in the 76th minute, Hector Herrera sent a header to Peralta, who pushed the ball with his left foot just wide of the net. In the first half, Mexico had three shots on goal and Guatemala none.

Mexico managed one shot on goal in the second half. Guardado drove the ball into the net in the 40th minute but it was waved off because a foul had been called against Mexico well before the kick. Mexico is without Real Madrid standout Javier Hernandez. The Mexican known to fans as “Chicharito” fractured his collarbone in a Gold Cup warmup friendly against Honduras. The Mexican national team, known as “El Tri,” opened Gold Cup competition with a 6-0 rout of Cuba in Chicago on Thursday. Guatemala lost to Trinidad and Tobago 3-1. In the first match of Sunday’s doubleheader, Trinidad and Tobago defeated Cuba 2-0. The Cuban team has had two players defect to the United States - striker Keilen Garcia and midfielder Arael Arguellez.—AP

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This article was published on 13/07/2015