Mexico 3-1 El Salvador: Defending champions start off with a convincing win

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Photo Credit To @miseleccionmx

Elias Hernandez starred for El Tri as he scored one and set-up their other two goals to lead them to a 3-1 win over El Salvador at the Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.

Despite playing a mostly second-string squad, as well as being without their suspended head coach, Mexico made a promising start to their CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense on Sunday as they beat El Salvador 3-1 in San Diego, California.

Hedgardo Marin and Orbelin Pineda both scored their maiden international goals for El Tri. And both were set-up by the excellent Elias Hernandez, who also scored the second goal, which effectively proved the winner.

Coming on the backs of their Confederations Cup campaign in Russia, Osorio chose a relatively green side for the competition. His decision to rest his regulars ahead of the start of the next season may yet prove to be smart. The young Mexican side did quite well against El Salvador, refusing to be pinned and attacking brightly throughout.

The El Salvadorians, too, didn’t lack for aggressiveness going forward. But they did show a clear vulnerability on their left flank, from where essentially all three Mexican goals came. Their inability to deal with Mexico’s crosses did them in, eventually. Coach Eduardo Lara would be disappointed his side couldn’t hold their own better against the inexperienced Mexicans, particularly since they fought well to stay in the game for a good while.

Instead Mexico came away making it seven games unbeaten against La Selecta. And they will gain good confidence for the game against Jamaica, whom they beat in the last Gold Cup final.

Hernandez proves the difference in an open, entertaining contest

Both teams started well, not shying away from attacking the other. Mexico took the lead in the eighth minute when Marin rose to power in Hernandez’ cross at the back post. But El Salvador bounced back quickly as Bonilla made a great run into the Mexican area to strike past Corona for the equaliser.

La Selecta should have taken the lead soon after in the 27th following an error by Corona while trying to being a counter. Thankfully for Mexico, however, Gerson Mayen’s cheeky chipped attempt sailed over. El Tri then restored their lead a couple minutes later through a well-taken Hernandez volley from close range. Gallardo could have made it 3-1 going into the break, but Villalobos reacted well to block his shot.

The Mexicans were growing bolder, however. And ten minutes after the restart, Hernandez popped up again. Another accurate cross to the back post this time found Pineda, who tapped it in for the third. Mexico continued to attack the El Salvadorian goal, looking for more even as Villabolos was forced off with an injury. But the score stood at 3-1 at the final whistle. And El Salvador will need to look ahead to their next couple of games for the points they need to survive.

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Mexico assistant coach Luis Pompilio Paez presided over the side in the absence of the suspended Juan Carlos Osorio.

“The hardest part is that I can’t be on the bench, helping our team win,” Osorio said on Saturday. “I think that’s probably the worst situation for every manager.”

Paez appeared fairly satisfied with the defending champions’ overall performance and the application of his players. But he also spoke of some of the issues he noted during the match. The 57-year old spoke of a few wrinkles in the first half, saying his team allowed openings for the El Salvadorians to exploit. But he said that he was satisfied despite, and that the team would reflect on the issues to ensure progress.

A poor first half was made up for by Mexico’s control of the ball after the break. And Paez spoke of the importance of this tournament as a chance for the younger players to grow:

“There were many positives. And areas needing work, too, especially since there are youngsters who haven’t played much at this level. This is a big opportunity, representing your country. And as we play more in the tournament we will improve. ”

Paez also spoke glowingly of the performance of Hernandez on the day:

“He did great, important things for us. His goal, plays on the left wing, movements into inside channels and closing down the opponent, and particularly the cross for the assist – they were all tough for El Salvador to handle.”

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