Mexico beats Panama in Gold Cup Final off Santiago Giménez’s late strike
MÁS EN ESTA SECCIÓN
Mexico lifted their record ninth CONCACAF Gold Cup at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 16, thanks to a late winner in the 88th minute from late substitute Santiago Giménez to give El Tri the 1-0 victory over Panama.
The victory comes eight months and two coaches after embarrassingly failing to come out of the group stages at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar last winter.
Ajax midfielder and Mexico international Edson Álvarez slid to block Iván Anderson’s cross in El Tri’s penalty area, Mexico’s Orbelín Pineda dribbled away and made a pass into the center where Giménez, the Feyenoord forward, took the ball past Harold Cummings and out paced Cummings and Fidel Escobar into the penalty area.
He got a difficult left-foot shot over goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera to give him his fourth goal in 18 international appearances and his second of the tournament. The Argentina-born forward came on only three minutes earlier.
“It’s the biggest moment of my career,” Giménez said. “I just tried to get down the field quickly. We followed our principles throughout the game, and they worked perfectly. The result was great, because there were a lot of competitive teams in this tournament.”
The Gold Cup is infamous for not playing full-strength national teams but El Tri started the game with eight starters who also started at last year’s World Cup. For Giménez, it’s his biggest international goal thus far and fans hope he’ll be the face of a new generation of Mexican talent.
Following El Tri’s first group stage exit at the World Cup since 1978, Mexico was able to regroup and deliver a championship winning tournament under interim coach Jaime Lozano, who only became head coach a month ago after a Nations League loss to the United States.
Under his watch, Mexico only conceded two goals in its matches.
“Today the environment was like being in a World Cup,” said Lozano, whose contract is only for this tournament. “It wasn’t like a Gold Cup. I’m dreaming after I saw a stadium like we saw today, and to provide people with the happiness we’ve seen. Again, the team gave everything. We knew that we were writing history, and you have to take these opportunities.”
Mexico has won the Gold Cup more than all other nations combined. The U.S. has seven Gold Cup titles and Canada one. Panama’s inspiring Gold Cup run was spoiled by the winner who upset the U.S. in the semifinals to earn its third appearance in the final.
But in the final, Los Canaleros found it tough to find any good scoring chances past veteran Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Panama also lost the Gold Cup final in 2005 and 2013, both to the U.S.
“We gave everything we had,” coach Thomas Christiansen said through a translator. “The team died standing. There is nothing I can regret from my players. Some people remove the (postgame) medals when they are the runner-ups, but I told them they should be proud of the achievements because of the soccer they played.”
Lozano previously coached Mexico’s Olympic team to a bronze medal in Tokyo two years ago. He was hired ahead of the Gold Cup campaign by Juan Carlos Rodríguez, who took over as Mexican Football Federation president only a month earlier.
Following the departure of Tata Martino at the World Cup and later Diego Cocca’s after his brief time, Lozano came in and used mostly the core of his Olympic team at the Gold Cup.
Lozano’s heroics garnered the congratulations from FIFA President Gianni Infantino who on stage wished him luck for the 2026 World Cup cycle, unaware that Lozano’s contract expired as soon as the final whistle blew.
“I would love to be here,” Lozano said. “It’s a dream to lead my national team in the World Cup, specifically a World Cup that is going to be hosted by Mexico and (the U.S. and Canada). If it is me, I’m going to have to work hard with my coaching staff. If it isn’t me, I’m going to support the team.”