Santi Gimenez seals Mexico’s quarterfinal berth in 2023 Gold Cup vs. Haiti

Santi Gimenez seals Mexico's quarterfinal berth in 2023 Gold Cup vs. Haiti

Mexico has punched its ticket to the knockout stage of the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup.

El Tri on Thursday topped Haiti 3-1 in the second group stage game, putting them through to the quarterfinals with the final group match still to be played.

After thrashing Honduras 4-0 in the tournament opener on Sunday, Mexico got off to a much slower start against Haiti.

The chances were there in the final third as Haiti opted to sit deeper and soak up pressure to break out in transition. The gamble paid off at halftime as the scoreboard read 0-0, with fans even booing at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

But that all changed just a minute into the second half.

Winger Uriel Antuna delivered a cross from the right flank that striker Henry Martin connected with for the headed goal. Both players have been struggling mightily to find some form, so grabbing the opener quickly into the second half after a frustrating first served as a major sigh of relief.

Mexico continued to look dangerous from that point on as it searched for its second goal. That came about 10 minutes later, albeit from an unlikely source.

Left back Jesus Gallardo made a threatening run down the left flank in transition and delivered a low driven cross that would’ve found Orbelin Pineda, but it ended up as an own goal.

Haitian center back Ricardo Ade found himself in no man’s land as the cross came in, and his clearance just didn’t have enough power to be steered away from the net.

But conceding a second didn’t deter Haiti, who beat Qatar 2-1 in its opening match, from responding.

Midfielder Danley Jean Jacques spiced things up when he scored a header off a corner kick in the 78th minute, capitalizing off a solid stretch of sustained pressure from the Haitian squad. Veteran goalie Guillermo Ochoa couldn’t do anything but watch the ball fall in at the bottom left corner.

Haiti had a few more opportunities to claw back and make it 2-2, but it unfortunately got caught out in transition yet again and lacked the legs to recover.

A neat build up from the back saw Mexico swiftly progress the ball to Antuna down the right flank, whose cross connected with striker Santi Gimenez. Gimenez had to adjust to have a chance, and the bright 22-year-old forward did well to strike the ball with the outside of his right foot while falling.

That put the game well out of reach for a Haitian side that just didn’t have enough going forward. The Grenadiers had six shots on the night with two hitting the target, which didn’t come anywhere close to Mexico’s 32 shots that saw 10 hit the target.

El Tri also controlled possession 65% of the time and made it two wins in two under interim manager Jaime Lozano. The switch to a 4-3-3 hasn’t always provided the silkiest football, but being on the front foot more often and retaining possession have been pivotal factors in the recent victories.

Mexico will now look to sweep the group stage when it plays Qatar on Sunday, July 2. Haiti is still in second place in Group B, but a loss against Honduras would eliminate the nation from advancing further.

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