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Mexico breezes past Curacao into Gold Cup quarterfinals

Mexico’s Edson Alvarez, left, celebrates his goal against Curacao during a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match Sunday. (AP)
LOS ANGELES: Defending champion Mexico booked their spot in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup Sunday by blanking Curacao 2-0 and stretching their tournament win streak to eight straight games.
Mexico finished first in Group C with two wins and a draw for seven points. Jamaica was second with five points and El Salvador finished third with four points.
Jamaica and El Salvador both punched their tickets to the quarterfinals after playing to a 1-1 draw earlier Sunday.
Mexico will next face Honduras on Thursday in Phoenix, Arizona with the winner advancing to the semifinals. Jamaica squares off against tournament surprise Canada in the other quarterfinal on Thursday.
The US, who won Group B, will battle El Salvador on Wednesday while Costa Rica faces Panama.
There was little riding on Sunday night’s match as Curacao had been eliminated before the game when El Salvador tied Jamaica.
Angel Sepulveda and teenager Edson Alvarez scored for Mexico who fielded a team that featured just one player from their 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup squad.
Sepulveda scored halfway through the first half in front of a crowd of 44,000 at the Alamodome Arena. Mexico then held on until 19-year-old Alvarez scored his first international goal in the 91st minute to seal the victory.
Mexico is seeking its eighth Gold Cup title having won previously in 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011 and 2015.
Jamaica finished the knockout round with one win and two draws.
Nelson Bonilla opened the scoring in the 15th minute for El Salvador, who avoided a defeat which would have seen them playing Group B’s Martinique in an elimination round tiebreaker.
Bonilla scored on a left footed shot to the far post at the Alamodome arena. It was the first goal given up by the Jamaican defense in the tournament.
Darren Mattocks tied it up in the 64th minute for the Reggae Boyz with a perfectly-placed low, hard shot that beat El Salvador goalkeeper Derby Carrillo. It was Mattocks’ fifth goal in six Gold Cup contests.
El Salvador returns to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013 as they failed to advance out of the knockout round in 2015.
Elsewhere, the US brought in added reinforcements for Wednesday’s quarterfinal match. The Americans are one of the pre-tournament favorites and they hope to take advantage of reigning champs Mexico fielding an inexperienced B squad.
US coach Bruce Arena called up forward Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, midfielders Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe, and goalie Tim Howard.