Thursday 21st June, 2018
25 ℃ | 31 ℃Kingston

SAN ANTONIO -- Mexico finished top of Group C in the Gold Cup thanks to its 2-0 victory over Curacao in front of 44,232 in the Alamodome in San Antonio. Angel Sepulveda opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, with Edson Alvarez wrapping up the scoring in second half injury time.

The win sets up a quarterfinal against Honduras on Thursday in Phoenix. Here are three takes from the match:

1. Corona stars in goal for El Tri

The fact Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona was the man of the match tells the story of a game El Tri came all too close to letting slip.

Mexico took the lead early when Sepulveda headed in at the back post from a cross swung in by Raul Lopez. From there, the outcome should've been a mere formality against a side already out of the Gold Cup. But Mexico was reliant on a string of quality saves from Cruz Azul's 36-year-old keeper to keep it in the lead.

The best chance early on came from Curacao's Gino Van Kessel, who must've thought he'd scored when he sent a right-footed shot toward the bottom corner of the goal, but Corona managed to react quickly and flicked the ball around the post with his right hand.

From there in the first half it was a familiar story, with Mexico controlling possession and Curacao not looking particularly dangerous. At halftime, the feeling was that El Tri would pull away from Curacao and even notch a few goals.


Sepulveda's goal highlighted what Lopez can bring very clearly. And on a night in which Cesar Montes and Martin Barragan were unconvincing in their first starts for El Tri and right-back Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez couldn't shine, it was Lopez and his crossing that stood out.

Osorio has certainly made full use of his squad so far, with 21 of the 23 players featuring so far in the Gold Cup.

3. Honduras next up for El Tri

"La H" will pose Mexico's sternest test yet. The Central American team may not have clicked into gear so far this Gold Cup and hasn't even scored a goal, but Jorge Luis Pinto and fellow Colombian Osorio are arch-rivals, pitting two very different footballing philosophies.

Curacao came out to play more than expected against Mexico and exposed its weak defense. On the flip side, El Tri had more space to operate in compared to the 0-0 draw last Thursday against Jamaica. Finding opportunities wasn't anywhere near as difficult as against the Reggae Boyz.

The shrewd Pinto -- who guided Costa Rica to the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup -- will have watched Mexico's games at this Gold Cup very closely and you can guarantee he'll already be formulating a plan. It'll be a case of Honduras stopping El Tri playing as much as possible, retracting into its own half, not giving Mexico space or time on the ball and employing tactical fouls when necessary.

Mexico was caught short against a Jamaica side that did something similar and Osorio will need to find an answer with a squad that has shown some positives, but has not convinced so far this Gold Cup.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.

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