Canada & Qatar Tried, But The Gold Cup Final Was Destined For A MEX-USA Rematch
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USA vs. Qatar
Gyasi Zardes' goal in the 86th minute sent the U.S. men's national team to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup after a 1-0 semifinal victory against Qatar in Austin, Texas, on Thursday.
Zardes entered the match in the 63rd minute and the Columbus Crew forward scored his 14th international goal off a counter after pressure created a turnover.
Nicholas Gioacchini, an 81st-minute substitute, raced down the left flank then sent a cutback pass to the box where Zardes slid and made contact with his right foot for the redirect.
The U.S. made the final for the 12th time in 16 Gold Cups. Its most recent of six championships was 2017. Mexico has eight titles and Canada captured the top prize in 2000.
Matt Turner made all three of his saves in the first half for the USMNT.
The match turned to the Americans' way in the 61st minute when Hassan Al Haydos missed a penalty kick after video review ruled that defender James Sands fouled Akram Afif. Al Haydos did a stutter step then put the ball well over the crossbar.
QATAR MISSES pic.twitter.com/aePfLElsZh
While the Qatar starting lineup Thursday averaged 70 international games, the U.S. averaged 13 with an average age of 23 years, 284 days.
If not for Turner of the New England Revolution, the U.S. would have been trailing at the half after being outshot 13-3. One of his saves stopped a potential own goal.
Turner made a diving fingertip stop after Sands inadvertently redirected a shot with his left foot in the 19th minute. Barely two minutes later, another deflected ball from outside the box landed inside to an unmarked Abdelaziz Hatim and Turner again dove to his left to get his hand on the attempt.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 29, 2021
Qatar's Meshaal Barsham (three saves) came up big just prior to the penalty when he stopped a Daryl Dike try from the center of the box.
The U.S. will play Mexico in Las Vegas on Sunday after Mexico pulled out a 2-1 win over Canada later Thursday.
Mexico vs. Canada
Hector Herrera scored in the ninth minute of second-half stoppage time to give Mexico a dramatic 2-1 victory over Canada in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Houston on Thursday.
Herrera took a pass from Rodolfo Pizarro and slotted a shot from 16 yards. Several scrums ensued before play continued after the goal.
HECTOR HERRERA IN THE 99TH MINUTE pic.twitter.com/y5wHyomNNv
Orbelin Pineda converted a penalty kick in the second minute of first-half stoppage time to put Mexico ahead.
VAR confirms the penalty and Mexico takes the lead! pic.twitter.com/hxyTgQOEQl
Tajon Buchanan tied it in the 57th minute for the first goal allowed by the Mexicans in the five tourney matches.
Canada ties it!!!Tajon Buchanan scores the FIRST goal against Mexico in this year's Gold Cup tournament and levels the score for Canada pic.twitter.com/OZiOuDITT7
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 30, 2021
Mexico failed to regain the lead in the 66th minute after Jesus Corona drew his second penalty. Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau dove to his right to save the attempt by Carlos Salcedo.
CRÉPEAU SAVES IT!He keeps Canada in it against Mexico pic.twitter.com/9ueVrSxmze
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 30, 2021
Crepeau saved the match early in second-half stoppage time with a left-handed swat of a header by Pizarro.
The Canadians were without striker Lucas Cavallini and defender Steven Vitoria due to yellow-card accumulation. They were also minus forwards Cyle Larin and Ayo Akinola because of injuries.
Canada was in its first semifinal since 2007 and was looking for its first championship since 2000. The Canadians are the only country beside the U.S. and Mexico to win the Gold Cup.
The Mexicans will play the U.S. in Las Vegas on Sunday with a chance for their ninth championship out of the 16 Gold Cups, including a 1-0 victory over the Americans in the 2019 final.