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Jul 11, 2013

Mexico tops Canada, still in contention

SEATTLE -- Raul Jimenez scored off of a corner kick late in the first half, and Marco Fabian converted a penalty early in the second as Mexico bounced back from an opening-game loss to beat Canada 2-0 in a CONCACAF Gold Cup group-stage game Thursday night.

Mexico, which lost 2-1 to Panama on Sunday, climbed back into contention in heading into Sunday's Group A finale against Martinique in Denver. Those teams are tied with 3 points each.

"The team improved on many fronts, and it operated better," Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said. "[Canada] was putting a lot of pressure in many different places of the pitch. But the team managed to get a result and convert opportunities into goals. That creates more confidence and less pressure."

Panama, a 1-0 winner over Martinique in Thursday's first game at CenturyLink Field, leads the group with 6 points going into Sunday's game against Canada, which was eliminated.

"I thought we deserved more than we got," Canada coach Colin Miller said. "I think it would be safe to say Mexico fought very hard to try to break us down, and they didn't create a million chances. I thought we played very well in spells. I thought we showed maturity in possession. But we're still not finishing in the final third, that's for sure."

Midway through the 42nd minute, Mexico won a corner kick on the attacking right side. Luis Montes floated it just into the penalty area, and Jorge Enriquez flicked it into the middle, about eight yards in front of the net. With Canada defender Marcel De Jong tight on him, Jimenez dove and sent it into the back right corner past goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

In the 57th minute, Fabian started to take the ball into the box. But barely a step inside the top of it, he was tripped by Canada's David Edgar, and referee Joel Aguilar immediately pointed to the spot. Fabian, who scored his team's only goal in the loss to Panama, drove his shot into the back left corner, with Borjan diving the opposite way.

"We improved on many things, but we were still missing on a few others," de la Torre said. "We need to create more opportunities and actually finish those opportunities, as well."

Canada nearly got a goal back late in the 89th minute, but De Jong's free kick from the top of the arc banged off the crossbar.

Miller didn't think Canada should have been down two goals at that time, contending that the PK should not have been called.

"My opinion is it's not a penalty," Miller said. "I could go into a great deal of details, but I'm biting my lips as much as I can.

"We didn't defend well from the corner kick four minutes before halftime. The second goal, I won't comment on anymore. If you take those elements out of the game, we're absolutely in the mix."

Mexico has struggled in international play in 2013, just 3-3-8 in 14 games, including 1-0-5 in World Cup qualifying contests. But it has never lost to Canada in Gold Cup play, winning all four games by a combined margin of 15-2.

Panama 1, Martinique 0

Gabriel Torres buried a penalty in the 85th minute and Panama advanced to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Martinique in Seattle.

Martinique, which beat Canada in its first game, can still advance out of the group stage and plays Mexico on Sunday.

"That was the result we wanted," Panama coach Julio Dely Valdez said. "It was a really complicated match, but we knew we were going to face a good team. Looking at the game, we had a certain superiority. Maybe it wasn't that big, but it was a certain superiority."

Torres, who had three dangerous shots saved from the run of play by goalkeeper Emmanuel Vermignon, made good on his try from the spot, sending the ball to the back left corner. The penalty was given when Jairo Jimenez was taken down in the box by Sebastien Cretinoir.

Martinique, which finished the game a man down when Jacky Berdix was sent off early in the 73rd minute with his second yellow card of the night, nearly tied the game in stoppage time. But Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo pulled down a target ball in the box while crashing into Martinique's Kevin Parsemain.

"Any red card like that has an impact," Martinique coach Patrick Cavelan said. "However, that's football, and you just have to adapt for it."

Martinique, which didn't even get off a shot during the first 45 minutes, showed some spark coming out of halftime. Steve Gustan launched a 25-yard shot just two minutes into the half that Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo dove to his left to save. Gustan had another try just three minutes later, but his shot from the top left corner of the box went barely wide.

Two plays in the box that could have resulted in a penalty kick for Martinique -- a hand ball in the first half, and Gustan being taken down in the second half -- were not called.

"In the last few games, I'm counting five penalties that weren't given," Cavelan said. "That counts for a lot."

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