Seventh heaven as Mexico lift Gold Cup

Andres Guardado of Mexico (holding trophy) and team-mates celebrate after defeating Jamaica 3-1 in the Concacaf Gold Cup final in Philadelphia on Sunday. It was Mexico's seventh title while host nation United States finished fourth.
Andres Guardado of Mexico (holding trophy) and team-mates celebrate after defeating Jamaica 3-1 in the Concacaf Gold Cup final in Philadelphia on Sunday. It was Mexico's seventh title while host nation United States finished fourth.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PHILADELPHIA • The troubled Gold Cup came to a celebratory end for Mexico on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Jamaica as the regional tournament sought to shift its focus from scandal to football.

Midfielder Andres Guardado scored with a superb volley in the 30th minute. Forward Jesus Corona then stole the ball and put it in through the legs of a Jamaican defender in the 46th minute.

Forward Oribe Peralta pounced on a defensive mistake in the 60th minute, putting Mexico up 3-0 before Jamaica finally avoided a shutout in the 78th minute with a goal by Darren Mattocks.

Mexico's victory was their seventh Gold Cup title, the signature tournament of the North American, Central American and Caribbean region. It buoyed a team who had often played unimpressively, needing the favour of questionable refereeing decisions to reach the final.

The final drew an enthusiastic crowd to Lincoln Financial Field, contrasting with the acknowledged refereeing mistakes; a charge by Panama of match-fixing; unruly fans, mostly supporting Mexico, who tossed objects onto the field; and threatening gestures by Panamanian players, who charged US referee Mark Geiger and pushed an assistant referee after a controversial semi-final loss to Mexico.

"There was a sense of kind of being uncertain of what happens next," Juergen Klinsmann, the US coach, said of the refereeing.

"That kind of overshadowed everything that really went on."

Concacaf, the regional governing body widely perceived as the most troubled of Fifa's six regional confederations, preferred to remain silent about the chaos on the field.

If anything, security guards at the Gold Cup seemed at times willing to tolerate anything but free speech.

The enduring image of this messy tournament is sure to be a banner held up by Panamanian players that called Concacaf officials thieves and corrupt - an audacious repudiation of regional integrity.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Seventh heaven as Mexico lift Gold Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe