Mexico became the first team to officially book their ticket to the quarterfinals of the 2023 Gold Cup after getting a 3-1 win over Haiti last night. Lozano’s squad have all but won the group as only Haiti can knock them out of first place and they’ll need an incredible shift in goal difference (Mexico sit at +6 while Haiti are at -1) at the end of the group stage. Mexico now travel to San Francisco for their final match against Qatar while Haiti travel to Charlotte to face a do-or-die match against Honduras.
The match began as Mexico hoped to give a great performance in front of a very intelligent and handsome crowd (I might have been in the stadium). Off a free kick, Luis Chavez would fire a shot that Haiti goalkeeper Alexandre Pierre bobbled right into the path of Edson Alvarez, but his close range shot bounced off the post and was cleared in a terrible miss. Off a corner kick soon after, a prepared play would find a wide open Jorge Sanchez, but his volley went well wide. After a high kick, Jorge Sanchez would receive a yellow card (his 2nd of the tournament), and will now have to miss Mexico’s next match against Qatar.
After a pass into the area, Uriel Antuna’s shot was cleared by Haiti’s defense. Mexico were completely dominating the match against a Haitian team that were very defensive and doing a good job of clearing the danger in the final third. In a terrible mistake, Luis Romo made a no look pass right to Wilde Guerrier in the area, who’s left-footed shot went right to Guillermo Ochoa. Had Guerrier passed to one of two available Haitian attackers, Mexico would have conceded a goal because of Romo’s overconfidence. Mexico continued to create chances, but failed to convert on any of them.
A cross into the area was terribly defended by Haitian defender Ricardo Ade, who left the ball in the area to Henry Martin, who sent his close range shot right to Pierre. It was yet another mistake and worse yet, got into Martin’s head, who failed to press the goalkeeper until teammates called him out on it, which allowed Pierre all the time to get off a long ball that fell to Duckens Nazon, who’s shot went just wide. It was the last clear chance of the half and Mexico went into halftime with a scoreless draw even though they had dominated the match.
The second half started with Mexico coming out on the offense from the start. Less than a minute in, Uriel Antuna made a great cross that found a rushing Henry Martin, who got off a close range header past Pierre to finally open the score. Martin made up for his terrible mistake in the first half to get Mexico the more than deserved lead. After being backed into their own area, Mexico started a counter with a great backheel combination play from Antuna to Martin, and then to Chavez, who found a streaking Gallardo, followed by a great low cross that Ricardo Ade tried to clear, but instead deflected past Pierre and into the net for an own goal that gave Mexico the 2-0 lead. It was a great combination play before the own goal and Mexico had a lead that reflected the actions on the pitch.
Later, Mexico subbed out Henry Martin and Jorge Sanchez for Santiago Gimenez and Julian Araujo. They continued to dominate possession, but played a little too relaxed at times. Haiti started to pressure and created some chances that had to be cleared for corner kicks. Off a corner, Danley Jean Jacques would get the opportunity to rise and get a header that went past Ochoa into the net for a goal that cut the lead to 2-1. They’d get another chance before Mexico cleared it, but for the first time, Haiti had Mexico on their toes. Romo would be allowed the time to make a great through pass to Antuna who got a great run and cross to the area, where Santiago Gimenez would connect correctly past Pierre, giving Mexico the 3-1 lead. It was the best goal of the night and gave Mexico back the control of the match. Soon after, the ref blew the final whistle, giving Mexico the win.