Mexico is back on top as Gold Cup champions.
El Tri won the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Final vs. Panama on Sunday at Sofi Stadium, home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, thanks to Santi Gimenez’s 88th-minute winner in a tight-knit affair.
Henry Martin thought he found the opener in the 34th minute on a first-time tap in, but VAR ultimately deemed it offside. Martin had been behind the Panama defensive line when he came to bring down Guillermo Ochoa’s goal kick, so his positioning for the goal was not the issue.
Martin then had another prime opportunity to grab the breakthrough in the 43rd minute. Orbelin Pineda’s shot went right at goalie Orlando Mosquera, but Mosquera reacted quickly to save Martin’s tap-in attempt with his feet.
Into the 40th minute, Panama’s defensive midfielder Anibal Godoy saw his deep attempt go wide left of the post after a series of deflections inside Mexico’s defensive box, so the scoreboard read 0-0 at halftime. El Tri’s shot count stood at 14 (three on target) to Los Canaleros’ six (one on target).
The first best chance of the second half went to Panama. In the 52nd minute, right wing back Edgar Barcenas delivered a cross from near the right corner that found striker Alberto Quintero, but Quintero’s header lacked power as he tried to redirect it to the opposite side of Ochoa.
Los Canaleros created some solid chances in transition thereafter, but the opening — and only — goal came from Mexico.
Right after El Tri defensive midfielder Edson Alvarez made a key clearance in his own box, Gimenez then received the ball at the midway line with his back to goal. He then outmuscled defender Harold Cummings — who was on a yellow card already — and drove the ball down the field before calmly clipping it over Mosquera in the 88th minute.
The finish was Gimenez’s second goal of the tournament in six appearances, and it continued off the heels of a breakout club campaign for the 22-year-old forward. He scored 15 goals in 32 games as Feyenoord won the Eredivisie title in the Netherlands this past season.
It was, after all, a deserved climax for Mexico, who finished the contest with 23 shots despite only seven hitting the target and El Tri not controlling the game as much as they would’ve liked.
Panama, on the other hand, managed 14 shots in total. However, just two hit the target against Ochoa. Its best chances on the night came via the counter, but the overall lack of clinical finishing came back to haunt the nation in a game that could’ve been stolen.
Los Canaleros didn’t go home completely empty handed, though. Defensive midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla, who plays for MLS side Houston Dynamo, won the Golden Ball, which is awarded to the best player of the tournament.
The win makes it a record-extending ninth Gold Cup for El Tri. The second most is the U.S. men’s national team with seven. The Stars and Stripes had lost to Panama in the semifinals via a penalty shootout.
Panama has never won the Gold Cup but has now made the final three times. The previous two came in 2005 and 2013, but both resulted in 1-0 losses to the U.S.
Mexico last won the Gold Cup in 2019 when it beat the U.S. 1-0. It reached the final in 2021, but lost to the USMNT 1-0.
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