Mexico got another victory in the 2023 CONCACAF Championship after defeating El Salvador by a 4-1 score. Unlike their opener against Saudi Arabia, Mexico struggled at times against an El Salvador team that came back to tie the match, but two late goals gave Mexico the solid result that keeps them in first place of Group A. El Tri will now face Jamaica in a match to decide the Group winner as Jamaica also have 6 points, but Mexico own the better goal differential.
The match started with Mexico taking control of the match, but El Salvador also being dangerous. Unlike their first match, Mexico couldn’t open the score although they did test El Salvador’s goalkeeper, Maximo Sandoval. After a nice run with a couple of good moves, Gael Garcia would get into the area and get off a shot that forced Sandoval to make a good save. Later on, Garcia would once again get a shot in the area but Sandoval easily saved it. Off a free kick, a cross wouldn’t be cleared and Osmar Gonzalez got a close range shot that Sandoval saved. Then, after receiving a deflected pass, Jose Mancilla made a good move and got off a great shot from outside the area that got past Sandoval and into the net to give Mexico the 1-0 lead. It was a great goal from Mancilla as Mexico got a deserved lead. Unfortunately for them, that led Mexico to losing control of the match as El Salvador tried for the tying goal against a Mexican side that became too passive. And despite El Salvador finishing the half with a better level of play, El Tri had some good counters and neither team had a great chance before the halftime whistle blew.
The second half saw El Salvador once again start to create danger while Mexico just sat back. They didn’t help things by constantly losing balls as they tried to come out playing from the back, which led to counter opportunities for El Salvador. It was off a defensive mistake from Mexico that El Salvador would get the tie. A cross into the area bounced into Mexico’s defense, but as they tried to clear, they bounced it off the chest off German Argueta, who then got the ball in the area and fired a shot past Santiago Lopez for the 1-1 tie. The tie seemed to wake Mexico up, who went on the offensive and once again took control of the match.
It wouldn’t take long for Mexico to get back on top as it was now El Salvador with the defensive miscue. Off a corner, Mexico got off a header that was blocked by El Salvador’s defense, but they failed to clear and left it in the area for Jose Mancilla to get off a close range shot for the 2-1 lead. El Salvador kept trying for another goal as their fans protested for a number of possible fouls that were dubious to say the least. Finally, a minute into injury time, Deibeth Armenta (who had just been subbed in) got into the area and was brought down by Andrew Reyes, which made the referee give Mexico a PK. Gael Garcia stepped up to take it and would place his shot past Sandoval to give Mexico the 3-1 lead that clinched the victory. They took advantage of El Salvador’s lack of momentum and once again Armenta made a run and crossed into the area, and although Luis Gamboa tried to volley it, he missed. Yet the ball deflected right to Gilberto Mora, who scored the last goal for the 4-1 win. The match ended and in a sour event as El Salvador’s traning staff got into a scuffle with Mexico’s, ending in a coach from El Salvador getting a red card.
Mexico got a deserved victory although the goal difference might have made things a bit deceiving. While Mexico were the better team throughout, they struggled at times against an El Salvador side that took the match to them after going down 1-0. Still, a lot of the problems were made by Mexico and their constant need to come out playing with the ball and dribbling through the opposite team, which makes them lose a lot of balls that allow counter attacks. The more dangerous side is when the team fails to clear balls in the defense and instead tries to play the ball out of the area, which could lead to losing the ball meters away from their goal.
Mexico will now face Jamaica, who also sit on 6 points after defeating Saudi Arabia by a 4=1 score. Jamaica had previously defeated El Salvador, but only by a 1-0 score which means that a tie will give Mexico the group because of their superior goal difference. And yet, Mexico hope to get a victory to have momentum heading into the knockout stage.