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Mexico beats Trinidad and Tobago, reaches Gold Cup semis

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The Canadian Press
7/21/2013 9:28:37 PM
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ATLANTA -- Mexico coach Jose Manuel De La Torre knows there's only so much he can do to please his critics.

A narrow win over Trinidad and Tobago might rekindle concerns about his job security, but De La Torre was not interested in discussing his future or his team's perceived struggles.

When a reporter asked De La Torre if he thought this was a weak victory, the coach was quick to respond.

"You don't like it? We saw a different game," De La Torre said. "That's what I can tell you. Every time we win, we have to enjoy it. A win is a win, but that is enough. We always have to fix things but we also did a lot of great things tonight."

Raul Jimenez scored in the 84th minute to lead Mexico to a 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup on Saturday night.

Mexico, a six-time Gold Cup champion going for its third straight title, will face Panama in the semifinals on Wednesday in Dallas.

Jimenez used his right foot to redirect Miguel Layun's shot attempt from the right side with a sweeping move that helped the ball sail just past diving goalkeeper Jan Williams and into the left corner of the net.

Three of Mexico's 11 shots in the first half were on goal, but Williams only had to dive once to make a save. The other two attempts went right into his hands.

In the 62nd minute, Layun attempted a shot from the right top corner of the box. His arc looked to be on line before Williams stretched out to deflect the ball high.

Barely 1 minute later, Williams tipped away a shot by Jimenez, but he couldn't prevent him from scoring the winning goal with about 5 minutes remaining.

Williams faced 23 shots. Mexico goalie Jonathan Orozco faced seven.

Trinidad and Tobago ended Gold Cup play with a 1-2-1 record.

"It feels worse when you give up a goal so late in the game," Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart said, "but congratulations to Mexico.

Hart was not discouraged, though, adding that his team at least gave itself a chance to win.

"We need to possess the ball better and keep it out of the feet of the opposition," he said. "That needs to improve and our ability to attack with a little more variety. Our fullbacks did not get involved today at all, which is a big part of our game. There's some work to be done."

A 2-1 loss to Panama in a group match earlier this month dropped Mexico to 2-3-8 in international play this year, but the team has since won three straight.

Against Panama in four days, Mexico might play its second straight game without midfielder Jorge Enriquez, who sat out Saturday with a leg injury.

Panama this time will have Blas Perez, a leading scorer who did not play against Mexico because of a Major League Soccer commitment to FC Dallas.

"It's a different game, a very different game," De La Torre said. "We start over. We have had three more games that the team has improved upon since then. Little by little, we showed it tonight in the results and in seeing the confidence that each of the players has been able to achieve."

De La Torre believed his team showed composure to persistently pressure Williams in hopes he would make a mistake.

It's the same approach he wants Mexico to take against Panama.

"The team did not become desperate," De La Torre said. "They were under our strategy and our plan in order to win. It was very good on our end that we (took care of) the sides, the middle and the centre."

NOTES: CONCACAF officials announced a crowd of 54,229, a soccer record at the 21-year-old Georgia Dome. ... Mexico improved to 12-3-3 against Trinidad and Tobago, including a pair of wins in the Gold Cup. This was the first meeting between the teams in a knockout round.

Miguel Layun and Raul Jimenez (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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