CHICAGO (Reuters) – The United States came from a goal down to win the Gold Cup for the fourth time with a 2-1 victory over Mexico in an entertaining final on Sunday.
Mexico took the lead a minute before the break through Andres Guardado but the U.S. drew level with a Landon Donovan penalty in the 62nd minute and 10 minutes later Benny Feilhaber grabbed the winner with a superb volley.
The two teams had met twice before in the final with Mexico winning on both occasions but the U.S. victory extends their impressive home record against their neighbours – they are now unbeaten in their last nine matches on U.S. soil against Mexico.
In a game played at a high tempo in front of a capacity, mostly Mexico-supporting 50,000-plus crowd, the Mexicans had the better of the opening exchanges but suffered a blow in the 39th minute when striker Jared Borgetti went off with a muscle injury after a bad fall.
The U.S. had conceded just one goal in five games of the tournament and had never been behind but they were forced to deal with that novelty after Guardado slid the ball home at the back post, after a strong run down the right and low cross from Nery Castillo, to put Mexico ahead.
Bob Bradley’s side equalised when striker Brian Ching was ruled to have been pulled down by Jonny Magallon and Donovan coolly converted. Donovan’s 34th goal for his country makes him the joint all-time top scorer for the U.S. with Eric Wynalda.
The winner came when the ball fell to Brazilian-born Feilhaber from a corner and he blasted a volley into the far corner of the net.
There was drama at the end with U.S. keeper Tim Howard tipping over a shot from substitute Adolfo Bautista and then immediately the Americans broke, Donovan setting up DaMarcus Beasley who hit the bar.
“We felt they were on top of us in the first half but then again they only had the one goal and we knew a goal could change the match. We regrouped at the break, came out composed and did it,” Howard told Fox Soccer Channel.
Guardado, who suffered a nasty clash of heads with Jonathan Spector, was carried off on a stretcher during the medal ceremony.
Both teams now head for Venezuela to take part as guest nations in the South American championship for the Copa America.
The Gold Cup is run by the CONCACAF federation and brought together 12 nations from North and Central America and the Caribbean. (Writing by Simon Evans in Miami)