Mexico joins US in Gold Cup final
Aldo de Nigris and Javier Hernandez scored in extra time to give Mexico a 2-0 win over Honduras on Wednesday and a place in the Gold Cup final.
Mexico's opponent in Saturday's final will be the United States, which earlier beat Panama 1-0. It will be the third straight Gold Cup final between the two regional powers.
''They are a complicated rival,'' Hernandez said. ''We have to rest up, enjoy this victory and then we'll think about them beginning tomorrow.''
After the 90 minutes ended goalless, de Nigris put Mexico ahead following a corner in the third minute of extra time, and Manchester United forward Hernandez used his right hip to knock in another corner six minutes later to make it 2-0, delighting the 70,000-strong mainly pro-Mexico crowd.
Hernandez leads the tournament with seven goals, the second-most ever in a single Gold Cup. Mexico's Luis Roberto Alves scored 11 in 1993.
Honduras' Roger Espinoza was sent off for his second yellow card during the second period of extra time.
Both teams played a physical game, with Honduras getting 10 yellow cards and Mexico three.
''We knew it would be tough,'' Mexico coach Jose Manuel de La Torre said. ''Our team struggled to find the spaces we were looking for, sometimes because of us being imprecise but also because of the rival. But little by little we found them.''
Two of the best chances for a goal came late in the second half. With about three minutes left, Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos broke free behind the Honduran defense and hooked a low shot just wide of the net, with only the goalkeeper to beat.
In the last minute, Espinoza fired a left-foot shot from 25 feet that sailed just over the crossbar.
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Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez acknowledged that his team wore down in the extra period.
''We were always looking to attack,'' he said. ''We need time to become stronger. It's not just 90 minutes, but 120 minutes.''
Mexico and the U.S. have won nine of the 10 Gold Cups contested since the biennial tournament took its current form in 1991. The United States beat El Tri 2-1 in 2007, and Mexico won 5-0 in the 2009 final.
Mexico has outscored its five Gold Cup opponents by an aggregate score of 18-2. El Tri is also undefeated in its past 11 Gold Cup games, with nine wins and two draws.
The Mexicans have progressed to the final despite five players - goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, defenders Francisco Rodriguez and Edgar Duenas, and midfielders Christian Bermudez and Antonio Naelson - being suspended before the tournament for positive tests for clenbuterol.
CONCACAF allowed Mexico to replace the suspended players for the rest of the tournament, and defenders Paul Aguilar, Hiram Mier and Hector Reynoso and goalkeeper Luis Michel and midfielder Marco Fabian were added to the squad.