Mexico, Honduras reach Gold Cup semis


Second-half goals from Aldo De Nigris and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez lifted Mexico to a 2-1 victory over Guatemala and into the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday. Second-half substitute De Nigris grabbed an equaliser for defending champions Mexico in the 48th minute after Carlos Ruiz’s fifth-minute strike put Guatemala ahead. Hernandez scored the match-winner in the 65th minute as Mexico advanced to a semi-final clash against Honduras, who won 4-2 on penalties against Costa Rica after they played out a 1-1 draw after extra time. Honduras advanced in the first game of a doubleheader at New Meadowlands Stadium that drew a largely pro-Mexican sellout crowd of 78,807.
Mexico and Honduras will play on Wednesday in Houston. “Our team is very strong at the core,” coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said. “They know they should win versus any adversity. “We knew it was a difficult match and a difficult opponent. The early goal was because the field was a little complicated and heavy but we knew that we would come back, and we did.” Mexico stayed on course for a title repeat despite a squad depleted when the national federation withdrew five players who tested positive for banned clenbuterol at a pre-tournament training camp in May. Guatemala came out focused on pulling off an upset, and Ruiz’s quick strike shocked the pro-Mexico crowd.
Elias Enoc Vasquez’s long ball started the move. After Mexican defender Hector Moreno failed to clear the ball, Guatemalan captain Ruiz floated it over Mexico keeper Alfredo Talavera. Mexico had not previously trailed in the tournament. Ruiz came close again in the 73rd minute, with Talavera saving his 25-yard shot to keep Mexico ahead. Mexico, whose 14 first-round goals were seven more than any other team in group play, made one substitution at halftime as De Nigris replaced Israel Castro and made an immediate impact.