Guatemala stays in stride, tops Trinidad

Mauro Portillo (pictured) scored for Guatemala in its CONCACAF Under-20 Championship win over Trinidad & Tobago on January 14, 2015, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. (Photo: Mexsport) 

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Guatemala (2-1-0, 7 points) maintained its unbeaten record in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, posting a 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago (1-1-1, 4 points) on Tuesday at the National Stadium.

With two games to be played later in the evening – Aruba (0-0-2, 0 points) v United States (0-1-1, 1 point) and Jamaica (0-1-1, 1 point) v Panama (2-0-0, 6 points) – the Guatemalans took the provisional lead in Group A by a single point over their Central American counterpart.

It appeared that a 25th minute own-goal would be all to separate the teams, but a hustling Mauro Portillo added an insurance tally late in the encounter.

Trinidad enjoyed a bright start and through its possession was able to force Guatemala goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen into an early save off a Duane Muckette effort.

From there, though, the Guatemalans settled in, utilizing the pitch’s width to their advantage.

That tactic paid off in the 25th minute as Stheven Robles delivered a cross from the right-goal line to the far post for powerful forward Mauro Portillo, who headed the ball down towards the net.  It took a deflection off defender Martieon Watson’s thigh and crossed the line.  The own-goal made it 1-0 and gave solid-defending Guatemala, which conceded only one goal in its opening two games, the opportunity to play more compactly. 

The Caribbean champion’s best chance came in the 74th minute.  Levi Garcia broke away down the right wing and crossed into the box for Aikim Andrews, who reacted quickly to chest it, but the solid Hagen anticipated well and was there to gather it in.

Guatemala made sure of the victory with two minutes left in normal time.  On the right side of his own end, goalkeeper Johan Welch received a throw in.  Rather than launch the ball up field, he tried to elude the charging Portillo with a move.  The rising Municipal star hustled to make the steal, raced towards the left edge of the box and rolled a shot from 14-yards out into an open goal.

Group A action moves to Montego Bay on Sunday, when Guatemala will face Aruba and Trinidad will look to bounce back against Panama.