Mexico Wins Despite Lackluster Effort, 1-0


As if Mexico needed any more favors in this Bora-rigged Gold Cup tournament, Guatemala goalkeeper Edgar Estrada handed over another in the 88th minute of a dire scoreless affair before an announced 32,571 at Jack Murphy Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Playing with absolutely no incentive to win--a tie would have put Mexico in the the semifinals in San Diego, same as a victory--Mexican midfielder Ramon Ramirez lobbed a pass into the Guatemala penalty area. Teammate Eustacio Rizo met it with his head, but just barely, deflecting the ball downward into the turf.

There the ball short-hopped a slow-responding Estrada, who could only get a hand on the ball before watching it dribble into the net for a 1-0 Mexico victory.


It was a gift, pure and simple, the latest in a long line laid before the feet of the Mexican national team in this tournament. Gold Cup organizers, if that’s the word for them, have a vested interest in Mexico advancing far in the field--they need the gate receipts--so Mexico has been granted the easy route through group play. To reach the semifinals, Mexico only needed to get past the two weakest teams in the field--St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which did not have a soccer federation before 1988, and Guatemala, whose national team did not play a game for three years prior to November.

Mexico defeated St. Vincent, 5-0, in its opener, yawning in between goals. After that, Mexico needed only a tie with Guatemala to get to the semifinals, where, very likely, Mexico will face Guatemala again.

Guatemala plays St. Vincent on Tuesday evening at Anaheim Stadium. If Guatemala wins by at least two goals and the United States and El Salvador do not tie, Guatemala and Mexico would meet again at Jack Murphy Stadium on Thursday night. Mexico was also assigned two virtual home games in group play, facing both St. Vincent and Guatemala in San Diego.

Mexico didn’t do much to enthrall Sunday’s crowd. Basically, the strategy was to sit back, let the Guatemalans do the attacking, tire them out and maybe sneak in a late goal if the opportunity developed.

From the 69th minute on, both teams played with 10 men, the result of two red cards flashed within two minutes. First, Mexico’s Raul Gutierrez was ejected for a vicious tackle on Guatemalan midfielder Martin Machon. Seconds later, Guatemala tossed its man-advantage away when defender Ivan Leon was red-carded for what was ruled a retaliatory foul.

Guatemala, which had most of the scoring chances in the first half, then pulled back to play for the tie. In the 88th minute, defender Carlos Castaneda was about to be sent into the game to fortify the back line.


But before Castaneda could enter, Mexico’s Ramirez swung his pass into the box for Rizo, a substitute who came on in the 75th minute, who headed the ball toward the goal.

Guatemala defender Erick Roberto Miranda sprinted inside the goal itself and flicked the ball out, but the ball had crossed the line.

Guatemala’s Machon said: “It was really sad for us to lose like this. To win this game would have been very dramatic for us.”




* Mexico 1, Guatemala 0

* Brazil 5, Honduras 0


* No Games Scheduled