Mexico clinch Gold Cup with 4-2 win over U.S.

PASADENA, California, (Reuters) – Mexico won the  CONCACAF Gold Cup yesterday with a 4-2 victory over the United  States in a hugely entertaining final played in front of 93,000  fans.
The pulsating game was a fitting finale to a tournament  boasting plenty of goals and attacking games in front of bumper  attendances and Mexico, with their exciting young team, were  deserved champions for a record sixth time.
Mexico had to fight back from 2-0 down after 23 minutes but  with Giovani dos Santos at his sparkling best, Manchester United  striker Javier Hernandez a constant threat and Pablo Barrera  causing havoc on the right wing, they ran out convincing  winners.
“They’re as dynamic as any (Mexico) team I’ve played  against,” U.S. forward Landon Donovan told reporters.
“They have a few guys who can change the game in a heart  beat. They have some special players and they’re explosive and  if you give them space they’re going to make plays,” he added.
A huge Mexican contingent in the crowd at the Rose Bowl  brought a festive atmosphere to the ageing venue for the 1994  World Cup final but the pre-game ‘Futbol Fiesta’ came to a halt  soon after kickoff.
The U.S. took the lead in the eighth minute when midfielder  Michael Bradley, son of coach Bob, nodded in a Freddy Adu corner  with a sublime angled glancing header.
The hosts were forced into an early change, though, when  fullback Steve Cherundolo sustained an ankle injury and was  replaced by Jonathan Bornstein, a move that had a big impact on  the game with the substitute struggling down the left.
The switch didn’t initially disrupt the attacking flow of  Bradley’s team who kept surging forward to exploit opponents who  appeared rattled by the early assault.
The approach paid off handsomely in the 24th minute when  Clint Dempsey fed Landon Donovan, the United States’ all-time  top scorer celebrating his return to the starting line-up with  the coolest of left-foot finishes.

The Mexicans soon woke up from their evening siesta and  within five minutes Pablo Barrera had raced past Bornstein onto  a long ball from Javier Hernandez and driven it past a  stationary Tim Howard to reduce the deficit.
Suddenly bubbling with confidence, Mexico struck the  equaliser in the 36th minute when Dos Santos cut in from the  right-flank and hit a low shot into the area which hit defender  Clarence Goodson. Andres Guardado pounced on the deflection to  squeeze a shot under the body of keeper Howard.
The U.S. left the field looking shell-shocked at the break  while Mexico’s confident body language told the story of a  determined comeback.
The hosts needed to get a quick grip on the game in midfield  if they were to stem Mexico’s attacking flow but their southern  neighbours were in no mood to ease off.
Guardado fed Barrera inside the area and his low shot beat  Howard and went in just inside the far post to make it 3-2.
The U.S. came close to levelling when Clint Dempsey hit the  bar with a fine strike from the edge of the area.
But the game was settled in style by Dos Santos, who was  forced to dribble away from goal after failing to round Howard  but produced an inch-perfect chip that evaded defender Eric  Lichaj on the line and floated into the top corner.
The sealer sparked chants of ‘Ole, Ole’ from the stands and  marked the start of a loud and long party sure to last well into  the southern California night.
“We are the best team in the Cup and that’s all that matters  at the moment,” said a beaming Hernandez.

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