• Sunday Mar 03, 2013

    Mexico edges U.S. for 12th U-20 title

    PUEBLA, México -- Regional powers Mexico and the United States provided a new classic to add to their growing rivalry, this time in a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship Grand Final that lived up to its billing, with the host eventually taking the honors after a 3-1 win that required extra time.

    A wide open game saw some early approaches by the visiting team, but it was host Mexico which opened the scoring on its first foray into the American area, in just the 4th minute. El Tri livewire attacker Jesus Corona made his way past two defenders and chipped a clever shot past goalkeeper Cody Cropper for the early lead.

    Corona was at it again just minutes later, but a brilliant diving save by Cropper prevented the Monterrey star from doubling the lead.

    Shortly afterwards, the U.S. was nearly on the board as a Daniel Garcia shot from inside the area had to be cleared off the line.

    The Mexican goal wouldn't be safe for long, though, as a ninth minute shot from Benjamin Joya found the arm of sliding Mexican defender Hedgardo Marin, who was whistled for a penalty infraction. Joya stepped up and coolly slotted the penalty kick past Mexican goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, breaching the Mexico net for the first time in the tournament and tying the score just ten minutes in.

    Both sides would provide ample offensive impetus for the remainder of the first and into the second, but it would take until extra time for the score to be settled in favor of the home team.

    With the Americans clearly tiring in the 99th minute, second-half substitute and 2011 Under-17 World Cup hero Julio Gomez would do the honors for Mexico, netting from spectacular volley off a corner kick that gave the Mexicans the lead for good.

    In the second added period, a Jorge Espericueta penalty kick seven minutes from time put an exclamation point on the score line.

    With the win, Mexico adds its record 12th CONCACAF U-20 title, while the U.S. is still in search of its first. Both teams, along with El Salvador and Cuba, have qualified for the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey.

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