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2019 Gold Cup, Semifinals
  • Raúl Jiménez (93' PEN)

Mexico scrapes past Haiti to clinch Gold Cup final spot

GLENDALE, Arizona -- An extra-time penalty goal from Raul Jimenez was enough to secure a 1-0 victory against Haiti to book Mexico's place in the Gold Cup final, after the Caribbean side had frustrated El Tri throughout the match.

Haiti's Herve Bazile clipped Jimenez inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot in the game's key moment in the 92nd minute, with the resulting penalty -- Jimenez's fifth goal of the tournament -- relieving Mexico after an uninspired performance against FIFA's 101st ranked team.

Haiti coach Marc Collat admitted after the match that he wasn't in a good enough position to see the foul, but argued that his valiant side did not deserve to exit the competition on such a call.

"The referee didn't explain anything," Collat said. "I wasn't in a good position to see. I didn't see a foul, honestly. It was strange, I don't know if we deserved it. We can't change the past."

This is Mexico's first Gold Cup final since 2015, having gone out at the semifinal stage to Jamaica in 2017. Mexico will face either the United States or Jamaica -- who play in Nashville in the other semi on Wednesday -- in the final at Chicago's Soldier Field on Sunday.

Mexico pinned Haiti back from the first whistle, enjoying 76 percent of possession in the first half and only allowing Haiti one shot on goal over the 90 minutes, but couldn't find a goal.

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Mexico coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino had made two changes to the starting XI for the quarterfinal against Costa Rica, bringing in Hector Moreno for Nestor Araujo at center-back and Roberto Alvarado for Uriel Antuna on the right wing.

Jimenez had Mexico's best chance in the first half, when he headed a Rodolfo Pizarro right-wing cross towards goal, but Haiti goalkeeper Jhony Placide dived across to save it.

Jonathan dos Santos had an opportunity from inside the area five minutes later, with his shot going over.

Pizarro remained Mexico's greatest attacking threat throughout the game, although Haiti caused more problems for El Tri in the second half, with Frantzdy Pierrot turning Hector Moreno to get a shot off four minutes after the break.

Mexico captain Andres Guardado came closest to breaking the deadlock within the 90 minutes when his free-kick from the edge of the penalty area forced Placide into a spectacular save.

Mexico coach Martino was forced to watch the game from a private box due to a suspension and showed signs of frustration as Mexico failed to construct many clear-cut chances during the second half.

Mexico assistant coach Jorge Theiler said after the match: "It was a game that started well for us and got worse, we had a lot of chances at the start. After that we became tired and the chances dried up, we lacked a little speed and to finish off the game.

"I don't think that Gerardo prefers one team, we don't have a preference for the final. We're not choosing a team, the best team out of Jamaica and the United States will play [the final].

"Haiti showed an evolution as a team during the tournament, it turned games around that they were losing, showed it was a dignified opponent. No team is easy to beat these days and that's why you have to value what Haiti did today."