Antuna hat-trick propels Mexico past El Salvador at CU20
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Uriel Antuna (pictured) scored three goals in Mexico's win over El Salvador in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on March 1, 2017, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: FIFA.com)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Mexico (1W-0D-1L, 3 points) scored four goals in the first half and kept alive its hopes of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 6-1 win over El Salvador (0-0-1, 0) in the classification stage of 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on Wednesday at the Estadio Nacional.

The result provisionally lifted the Tricolor into first place in Group E on goal difference over the idle United States (1-0-0, 3), +4 to +1.

Uriel Antuna netted in the 10th and 16th minutes, El Salvador scored an own goal in the 17th minute and Eduardo Aguirre added the fourth in the 33rd.  That went along with Mexico goalkeeper Jose Hernandez stopping a penalty in the 29th minute to keep El Salvador off the board.

Ronaldo Cisneros converted penalty to make it 5-1 in the 78th minute, while Antuna capped off his hat-trick with a minute left in regulation time,

Fernando Castillo’s sensational free kick goal in the 65th minute was the lone goal for El Salvador.

El Salvador still has its qualification hopes alive, but it needs to beat the United States on Friday to have any hope of advancing. An El Salvador victory would mean the two qualifiers for the Under-20 World Cup from the group of three would be determined by tie-breakers as all teams would be on three points.

Coming off the 1-0 loss to the Americans on Monday, Mexico game out firing and Antuna got his first when he capitalized on an attempted El Salvador clearance. Pablo Lopez had put in a corner kick from the right side that was cleared as far as Antuna. He had time to cut the ball onto his right foot and unleash a shot that was placed well enough to sneak in off the post to the right of El Salvador goalkeeper Mario Martinez.

Antuna doubled his scoring total for the game and Mexico’s lead when he found himself alone in the penalty area just a few yards away from goal. Diego Cortes had gotten through two defenders on the right side and crossed the ball for Antuna to head in.

Mexico benefited from a fortuitous bounce on its third goal when Diego Aguilar tried to cut the ball back near the end line on the right side but instead of finding a teammate, it deflected off Walter Chiguila and right into the El Salvador goal.

Cisneros was the provider on Mexico’s fourth when he races up the right side. He crossed into a lunging Aguirre, who converted from just inside the six-yard box.