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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 7, 2008

CONCACAF: US success in Cuba, Mexico win

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The United States and Mexico reeled off wins in CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on Saturday on a day that mixed soccer with politics.

The United States beat Cuba 1-0 in Havana, their first visit to the Caribbean island for 61 years, with a first-half Clint Dempsey goal.

The third round Group A match took place against the backdrop of a 46-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, imposed after Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and allied the country with the Soviet Union.

However, the U.S. players came out onto the pitch after the match at the rickety Pedro Marrero stadium and applauded the Cuban fans in what coach Bob Bradley said was a spontaneous gesture of appreciation.

"We've been treated very well here and people have been very friendly," he said. "It's been an excellent trip."

Tens of thousands of Mexican fans used their team's game at home to Jamaica to protest against rising crime and a brutal drug war that has killed more than 2,700 people this year.

At least three quarters of the 100,000 crowd at Mexico City's Azteca stadium answered a call by the Mexican Football Federation to dress in white while the team also played in white instead of the usual green.

The protest came a week after an anti-crime rally drew more than 150,000 to the city centre.

On the pitch, Sven Goran-Eriksson's team encountered little resistance from the Jamaicans, who were due to host the Group B game until Hurricane Gustav swept through the Caribbean.

Andres Guardado opened the scoring in the third minute before Fernando Arce and Jonny Magallon added further goals.

"Maybe the game was easy but there is still much work to do for us to qualify," said Eriksson. "We won with class and personality."

Mexico and the United States both top their groups with six points from two games.

Ramon Nunez scored twice in the second half as Honduras came from behind to beat Canada 2-1 away in the other Group B game, while Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala drew 1-1 in Group A.

Carlos Gallardo scored an injury-time equaliser for Guatemala after Keon Daniel had given the Soca Warriors an 83rd minute lead.

Central American pair Costa Rica and El Salvador both went on goal sprees in Group C.

Costa Rica thrashed Suriname 7-0, with four of the goals coming in the last 15 mintues, while Rodolfo Zelaya scored a hat-trick to help El Salvador beat Haiti 5-0. Haiti had Pierre Bruny sent off in the 21st minute.

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