Following their disappointing World Cup exit around eight months ago, Mexico achieved redemption by winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Ironically, the team featured most of the same players that were part of the WC exit. The win came through a thrilling end-to-end play, followed by a dramatic goal by substitute Santiago Gimenez in the 88th minute. The Mexicans secured a 1-0 win over Panama and their record-breaking ninth Gold Cup title.
The winning sequence began when Edson Alvarez blocked Ivan Anderson’s cross in the Mexico penalty area. Orbelin Pineda skillfully dribbled away and made an outstanding pass into the centre circle. Feyenoord’s 22-year-old forward Gimenez evaded defenders Harold Cummings and Fidel Escobar with his speed and entered the penalty area. Despite not connecting his left-foot shot properly, the ball bounced over goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera. This was his fourth goal in 18 international appearances and second of the tournament.
Gimenez’s goal triggered an ecstatic celebration at the packed stadium in Southern California, marking Mexico’s resurgence in this biennial CONCACAF tournament. Following their early exit from the World Cup, El Tri delivered an impressive performance in the Gold Cup under interim coach Jaime Lozano, who assumed the position only a month ago after a Nations League loss to the United States.
Mexico, having conceded just two goals throughout the tournament, has now won the Gold Cup more times than all other nations combined. The US has seven titles, while Canada has one.
Gimenez’s heroic moment concluded an inspiring Gold Cup campaign for Panama, which had upset the US in the semis for their third finals appearance. Despite creating several solid scoring opportunities, Panama couldn’t find a way past seasoned Mexican goalie Guillermo Ochoa. Panama previously reached the Gold Cup final in 2005 and 2013, losing both times to the United States.
While the Gold Cup often features weaker national rosters, Mexico fielded eight starters in the final who had also started in last year’s World Cup. They dominated play in the first half, amassing 14 shots, but Panama defended resolutely. Henry Martin appeared to score a close-range goal in the 33rd minute, but a video review confirmed he was offside. Pineda and Martin had consecutive point-blank shots in the 43rd minute, but Mosquera made crucial saves to deny them.
Panama’s best scoring opportunity came shortly after halftime when Alberto Quintero’s header narrowly missed the far post. Edgar Barcenas also had a promising chance in the 87th minute, but his shot from outside the box went wide.
Moments later, Gimenez’s goal brought jubilation to fans, offering hope that he could become the centrepiece of a new generation of talented Mexican players.
Lozano, who guided Mexico’s Olympic team to a bronze medal in Tokyo two years ago, was appointed to lead the Gold Cup campaign by Juan Carlos Rodriguez, who had assumed the presidency of the Mexican Football Federation just a month earlier. Mexico’s disappointment at the World Cup led to the departure of coach Tata Martino and a brief tenure for Diego Cocca before Lozano took charge, largely relying on the core of his Olympic squad for the Gold Cup.