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Mexico cruise to victory against Puerto Rico to qualify to W Gold Cup

Mexico completely dominated home side Puerto Rico, and perhaps should have won by a bigger score than the 3-0 win they had.

Mexico celebrates after Kaina Palacios scored the 3rd goal of the match.
via Rafael Hernandez Salcedo

Mexico qualified to the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup after traveling to Puerto Rico and dominating the home side en route to a 3-0 victory. Mexico was overly superior from the start and should have done better, especially in a scoreless first half against a team that was spirited but in over their heads. Mexico wins the group with the result, and will end their qualifying campaign on Tuesday when they face Trinidad and Tobago.

The first half started with Mexico coming out with Diana Ordoñez up top as Scarlett Camberos and Maria Sanchez were going to be the ones in charge of getting balls to her. Ordoñez got a good pass from Camberos early, but failed to control the ball and Puerto Rico’s goalkeeper Sydney Martinez easily got to the ball. As expected, Mexico completely dominated against a Puerto Rican side that sat back and could barely mount any kind of counter attack. Off of a corner kick a cross found Rebeca Bernal, but her close range header went wide. Mayra Pelayo the was able to get the ball into the area, but her left footed shot went right to Martinez. Mexico wasted a great chance when Puerto Rico made a failed offside play and left three Mexican players alone in the area, but Greta Espinoza slipped as she tried to kick the ball and sent it right into the hands of Martinez. Mexico then wasted a great chance when a cross by Camberos went all the way to a wide open Sanchez, but she took too long to get off a shot and when she finally did, defender Imani Morlock was able to block it in a wasted opportunity. Puerto Rico subbed out Josephine Cotto for Abigail Koly. Once again Camberos got a good cross in the area, but Ordoñez did a terrible job to control the ball and ended up making a bad pass just out of reach of Natalia Mauleon. Once again a ball was crossed into the area, and this time Sanchez was able to get off a left footed shot that was blocked by Puerto Rico’s defense. The halftime whistle blew and although Mexico had dominated, they failed to score and created too few chances with all that possession.

The second half started with Puerto Rico subbing out Gloria Douglas for Katsi Bengoa. A minute into the half, Bernal sent a long ball that found Camberos, who then crossed the ball into the area. It went right to the path of Natalia Mauleon, who got off a right footed shot past Martinez and into the net to score, finally giving Mexico a deserved 1-0 lead. A left footed shot from Pelayo would just go wide. After getting into the area, Camberos seemed to be brought down by Amber Diorio, and the referee gave a penalty kick. Ordoñez stepped up to take the penalty, but her right footed shot was saved by Martinez who made a great save.

Mexico then got a free kick, but Bernal sent it just wide. Mexico subbed out Maria Sanchez and Diana Ordoñez (who had a very poor performance) for Stefany Mayor and Kiana Palacios. Puerto Rico meanwhile subbed out Laura Suarez and Josephine Cotto for Jailene De Jesus and Cristina Torres. A cross into the area was brilliantly lowered by Pelayo into the path of Kiana Palacios, who got a strong right footed shot from close range that went past Martinez and into the net to score and give Mexico the 2-0 lead. Palacios made an immediate impact, and had in minutes done more than Ordoñez. Pelayo then made a great pass in the area that Camberos sent wide from close range, in a bad miss. Mexico subbed out Natalia Mauleon and Greta Espinoza for Licha Cervantes and Alexia Delgado. Puerto Rico meanwhile subbed out Jillienne Aguilera for Ashley McMahon. Seconds after entering the match, Cervantes had a chance but her shot was deflected right to Martinez’s arms. After Pelayo got the ball to Camberos, she got off a left footed shot that was saved by Martinez. The rebound was there for Cervantes, but her turned-around shot went just wide. Mexico subbed out Karla Nieto for Nicole Perez. In Puerto Rico’s best sequence, Torres made a good play to get past a defender and get a pass that got past Mexico’s goalkeeper Esthefanny Barreras. It went to a wide open Koly, but incredibly she sent her shot right to Barreras when she had an almost wide open net to score in a terrible miss. While Puerto Rico’s attack had been nonexistent, on their first great chance they missed an incredible opportunity. After a great pass from Mayor found Camberos, she got a cross through that found a wide open Kiana Palacios, who easily got a shot past Martinez and into the net to give Mexico the 3-0 lead. Puerto Rico tried to get a solitary goal, but Mexico did well to maintain possession and got the three points that guaranteed them the group and the ticket to the Gold Cup.

The scoreboard at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in Bayamon that showed Mexico’s winning score.
via Rafael Hernandez Salcedo

Mexico made it three-for-three by getting their third victory, officially winning the group and the direct ticket to the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup. Mexico was overly superior and should have done better against a team that fought hard but could barely get past the middle of the field. A number of misses and somewhat lackadaisical play cost them in the first half, but some key substitutions finally allowed the score to better reflect what happened on the field of play. Mexico will now end their campaign with a trip to Trinidad and Tobago, where they will face the host and try to make it a perfect campaign by winning all 12 points.