Guardado Leads Mexico to 3-1 Win Over Jamaica in CONCACAF Gold Cup Title Match

Andrés Guardado is returning south of the border as Mexico’s new soccer hero…

The 28-year-old Mexican futbol player, who plays for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and the Mexico national team, scored his fourth goal of the knockout rounds to help propel Mexico to its seventh CONCACAF Gold Cup title Sunday with a 3-1 victory over upstart Jamaica.

Andrés Guardado

Jesus Corona and Oribe Peralta contributed goals as El Tri scored twice early in the second half to ensure this match wouldn’t come down to any calls in the final minutes.

It was a convincing performance for coach Miguel Herrera and his team after some rough play and contentious moments in the previous two games.

Jamaica had made a rousing run to the final, stunning the U.S. in the semis to become the first Caribbean nation to reach the Gold Cup’s championship match. And they looked as though they belonged in the opening minutes, keeping the pressure on Mexico with several promising scoring chances but never putting a shot on goal.

Jamaica hadn’t trailed since early in the second half of its Gold Cup opener before a yellow card helped lead to Mexico’s first goal.

Darren Mattocks scored in the 80th minute to pull the Reggae Boyz within 3-1.

El Tri will face the U.S., the 2013 Gold Cup champions, on October 9 for CONCACAF’S spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

The only way Mexico had been able to score in the knockout rounds before Sunday had been on penalty kicks, all three by Guardado. And two of those came on late, questionable calls.

Against Costa Rica in the quarterfinals, a scoreless game was moments from going to a shootout when Guardado converted his penalty in the final minute of extra time. Mexico had been the better team that day, but that wasn’t the case in the semifinals. Down to 10 men, Panama was on the verge of victory when a disputed hand ball set up a penalty for Guardado in second-half stoppage time, and he scored on another for the winner in extra time.

Mexico had gone 272 minutes since one of its players scored on anything other than a penalty when Guardado put El Tri ahead for good Sunday. Jonathan dos Santos found Paul Aguilar out wide on a free kick, and Aguilar crossed it to Guardado, whose left-footed volley made it 1-0 in the 31st minute. It was his sixth goal of the tournament, one behind Clint Dempsey of the U.S.

Guardado came off to a thunderous ovation from the pro-Mexico crowd of 68,930 at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL‘s Philadelphia Eagles.

Navas & His Costa Rican Teammates’ World Cup Run Comes to a Close Against the Netherlands

World Cup 2014

Keylor Navas and his Costa Rican teammates came thisclose to pulling off one of the biggest ever FIFA World Cup shocks.

The 27-year-old Costa Rican footballer and his fellow Los Ticos teammates gave the Netherlands an almighty scare, keeping the Dutch scoreless, denying stars like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder any glory at every turn.

Keylor Navas

The Netherlands may have dominated all but the first 20 of the 120 minutes of the intense game,  hitting the woodwork, reining in shot after shot and creatingchance after chance, but still couldn’t find a way past the Los Ticos goalkeeper, who has been the hero of his country and looks to be a major contender to win the Golden Gloves award for best keeper of the tournament.

But Costa Rica and Navas’ luck would eventually run out in the penalty shootout.

With seconds left in extra time and penalties looming, Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal made World Cup history by taking out his number one, Jasper Cillessen, and replacing him with Newcastle custodian Tim Krul.

Krul didn’t let his boss down, saving two of Costa Ricas’ penalty shots to ensure that his team advanced.

Navas had kept clean sheets against England and Italy, conceded only from the penalty spot against Uruguay, and had then produced a wonderful save in the shootout against Greece to ensure the outsiders’ place in the last eight. It will be scant consolation to him or his colleagues, but history will record that he kept a clean sheet again this time.

The Levante goalkeeper was at it again throughout this match where the men in orange held sway but simply could not find a way past the Tico keeper.

Navas made numerous saves, diving to his right, diving bravely at the feet of onrushing attackers, saving with his own feet: it seemed that however the Dutch tried to breach his goal they would not succeed.

The Netherlands’ win over Costa Rica set up a World Cup semifinal meeting with Argentina next Wednesday in Sao Paulo.

Ruiz Leads Costa Rica Past Italy and Into the World Cup Round of 16

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Bryan Ruiz has scored one of the most important goals of his career to help Costa Rica pull off one of the biggest upsets of the 2014 World Cup.

The 28-year-old Costa Rican footballer and national team captain’s header, the first goal World Cup of his career, in the 44th-minute cemented the team’s victory over Italy 1-0 in the Recife, Brazil.

Bryan Ruiz

Costa Rica showed their 3-1 win over Uruguay was no fluke as they took the game to Italy in impressive style. Los Ticos now lead Group C on six points

Ruiz’s header, the biggest goal for his team in the last 24 years, has resulted in Costa Rica’s return to the Round of 16 for the second time in its history — the first was in 1990.

“Maybe there are a lot of people who didn’t have faith in us because we were in the ‘Group of Death’,” said Ruiz in a post-game interview. “But the dead are the other ones and we’re going to the next round.”

The result also guarantees England‘s first-round exit from the tournament. It’s the first time since 1958 that England has been eliminated in the group stage of the FIFA World Cup.

Italy and Uruguay, who meet on Tuesday, each have three points but Italy’s superior goal difference means they need only a draw to go through.