By Robert H. Kelly
(Each Rutherford, NJ, May 8, 2007) Jared Borgetti and Nery Castillo scored and Mexico survived an early scare from Cuba in a 2-1 victory Friday night in the opening Gold Cup2007 match for both sides.
Playing before a largely partisan Mexican crowd of 20,230 at Giants Stadium, Mexico was in control from the opening touch.
But on Cuba's first offensive threat in the 22nd minute, they scored to take the game to 1-0.
Mexico quickly answered to tie the game in the 38th minute when Adolfo Bautista's free kick from 35 yards found Jarad Borgetti undefended in front of the goal. The Cruz Azul striker deflected the ball with a tap of his head past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Mexico went ahead in the 56th minute when Pavel Pardo broke down the left and fired a hard shot Molina stopped but could not control, allowing Castillo to score into an empty net.
Panama converted its only two shots on goal in the first half, capitalizing on a man advantage after the 24th minute, and beat Honduras 3-2 in their opening 2007 Gold Cup match.
Honduras played the majority of the game with only 10 men after Wilson Palacios was ejected for a severe tackle, after being issued a straight red card.
Panama took the lead on their first scoring chance of the game. Rivera took a touch past Oscar Bonieck Garcia and put the ball under Honduran keeper Orlin Vallecillo in the 33rd minute. It was a mistake that would come back to haunt Honduras later in the match.
Honduras leveled five minutes later and it was Guevara, the 2004 MLS MVP who returned to play for Montagua in Honduras following a dispute with Chivas coach Preki earlier this season, who scored the goal.
Despite Honduras’ effort, Panama delivered the clinching goal on a counterattack two minutes later on a brilliant shot by Jose Luis Garces that he placed into the side-netting from 16 yards out.
Panama faces Cuba while Honduras will meet powerful Mexico Sunday at Giants Stadium.