Oribe Peralta scored a hat trick as Mexico routed undermanned Cuba, 6-0, in the first game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for both teams Thursday.
It was an easy opener for the six-time Gold Cup winners. Cuba was playing without six players who hadn't arrived in the United States because of visa issues, and one who went missing after the team arrived in Chicago. Coach Walter Benitez said that Keilen Garcia left the team Wednesday.
Mexico also played without star forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, who broke a collarbone last week in a tuneup match against Honduras. The Mexicans didn't need the Manchester United star, however, creating scoring chances seemingly every few minutes against a clearly overmatched Cuban team.
Peralta opened the scoring in the 17th minute, finally hitting the net after a save by goalkeeper Diosvely Guerra and a rebound shot that was saved off the line by a defender. Peralta's rebound seemed to open the floodgates. The striker for America in the Mexican league added a goal in the 37th minute and another in the second half.
The Cubans never seriously threatened the Mexican goal, and rarely even ventured far into the Mexico half of the field.
Carlos Vela scored in the 23rd minute for Mexico, and Andres Guardado got an easy goal when he was unmarked in the box for a free header to give Mexico a 4-0 halftime lead.
While Mexico seemed to lay back a bit in the second half, the barrage wasn't over. After Peralta's third goal came in the 62nd minute on a cross from Vela, second-half substitute Giovanni Dos Santos appeared to score in the 71st minute, but was ruled offside. Then, in the 76th minute, Dos Santos got free again, and this time scored legally for the Mexicans' sixth goal.
A raucous heavily pro-Mexico crowd of 54,126 nearly filled Soldier Field for the match.
Both teams play their next Group C matches on Sunday in Phoenix, when Cuba will play Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico will face Guatemala.
Earlier in Chicago, Sheldon Bateau and Cordell Cato scored within three minutes of each other, and Joevin Jones added another first-half goal to give Trinidad and Tobago a 3-1 victory over Guatemala.