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)
Updated 18 July 2017
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Mexico breezes past Curacao into Gold Cup quarterfinals

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.


LIVE: Egypt 1-3 Russia. Mohamed Salah pulls one back after hosts go three clear.

Updated 15 sec ago
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LIVE: Egypt 1-3 Russia. Mohamed Salah pulls one back after hosts go three clear.

ANOTHER SALAH STAT

10.32PM: ANOTHER PENALTY FOR EGYPT? Kutepov looks like he's wrestled Mohsen to the ground but the referee waves play on. It is not referred by the VAR committee and time is running out for Egypt. 

SHARPSHOOTER: Salah celebrates after slotting home his penalty. 

10.29PM — GOAL FOR EGYPT 3-1 to RUSSIA: Salah may not have been at his best so far but he makes no mistake from teh spot smashing the ball emphatically into the back of the net. Can that act as a springboard for an unlikley comeback?

10. 28PM — PENALTY FOR EGYPT: Salah is brought down on the edge of the area. The referee initially calls for a free-kick but that is changed to a penalty after a VAR review. Can he score to inject hope into Egypt players and fans?

FORLORN FANS: Egypt fans trying to enjoy what is unfldoing in front of them in Saint Petersburg. 

 

10.17PM - GOAL FOR RUSSIA 3-0: A disastrous two minutes for Salah and Co. Dzyuba finds room on the edge of the area before hitting a great curled shot to give El Shenawy no chance. This is gae over for Egypt and they are on the verge of going out of the tournament. 

10.15PM - GOAL FOR RUSSIA 2-0: What a tournament this man is having, Cheryshev scores his third goal of the World Cup after great work by Fernandes, a former Brazil international, down the right , a well worked goal. And now Egypt's hopes of making the knockout stages are well and truly on the brink. 

HAPPY HOSTS: The Russians celebrate their fortunate opener. 

10.05PM — SALAH SHOT: The Egyptian star finds room on the edge of the area, enough room to shoot with his trusty left boot. It's well blocked and goes for a corner.

10PM — GOAL FOR RUSSIA 1-0:  A nightmare start to the second-half for Egypt. Golovin crossed the ball in but for some reason rather than catch it El Shenawy punched the ball straight into the path of  Zobnin. A terrible shot hits Fathy who can only watch as  the ball squirmed past his past his own keeper from about 12 yards out. Bad luck but partly of Egypt's own making. They have it all to do now. 

FRIENDLY FANS: This is a great photo of Mexican and Colombian supporters lefting an Egypt fan so he can watch his heroes. 

 

 

HALF-TIME: It has been a close first 45 minutes in Saint Petersburg, neither side really showing much quality. Both coaches will be happy with the scoreline, the key thing for Egypt was to keep it tight and not go behind. The task for the second-half is to build on that, but with Salah only showing glimpses of his class it will be difficult. It is clear the Liverpool man is protect his injured shoulder and not making the dashing runs past defenders that we all got used to over the past 10 months. 

9.42PM — STAT ATTACK: It's been a tight first-half so far as these stats show.

 

9.37PM — SALAH SHOT: It has taken time but Salah gets his first shot in. On the edge of the penalty area he fakes to go on to his right before improvising and hitting shot with his left that only narrowly goes wide. Promising signs for Egypt here. 

9.35PM: Elneney illustrates that the Pharaohs are far from a one-man team as he floats a wonderful pass into the dangerzone. Mohsen again gets a head to it, but you cannot help buyt feel the big man has to do better as the ball drops easily into Akinfeev's hands. 

9.33PM: A good period for Egypt, they force the first corner, which they then subsequently wasted by not beating the first defender (criminal!). But a minute later they work a good opportunity for Mohsen at the far post, only good Russian defending prevented the striker from getting a better header in. 

9.30PM — ONE TO WATCH: Golovin is once agains having a good game in the Russia midfield. Elneny and Co need to quieten him down if they are to prevent the hosts creating good chance after good chance. 

9.24PM: Egypt will be happy with the first 25 minutes, having weathered the early Russian onslaught they have come back into the match and, as with the Uruguay match, showing composure on the ball. Can they go up a level from here? 

9.20PM: It's been a bit of a bitty start from both sides as this photo shows...

 

9.14PM: CLOSE! 'Trezeguet' comes so close with a curling effort from the edge of the box... Egypt finding their feet in this game ...

9.12PM: Mohamed Salah still yet to come into the game, but Egypt looking much brighter than in the first minutes...

9.05PM: Russia commanding the early stages and looking likely to score...our man Salah yet to make a considerable impact...

8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...

8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from our vantage point he is...

 

8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically? 

For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace. 

 

8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...

RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov,  Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs:  Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat,  Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.

EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed,  Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary,  Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy,  Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy. 

 

8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why.. 

 

 

8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.