Mexico 4-1 Costa Rica: Tricolor finishes first in Gold Cup Group A

Jose Andres Guardado scored a brace as the Tricolor scored all four of its goals before halftime in Sunday's win against the Ticos.

Mexico's attack ran rampant on Sunday as the Tricolor earned a 4-1 victory over Costa Rica, securing a first-place finish in Gold Cup Group A.

Rafael Marquez scored the opener after 17 minutes, before Jose Andres Guardado (19', 26') netted a quickfire brace. Pablo Barrera added a fourth on 38 minutes, and Mexico entered the half-time break with a comfortable, 4-0 lead.

Apparently satisfied with its lead, the Tricolor eased off the throttle in the second half. Costa Rica pulled a goal back through Marcos Urena in the 69th minute, but his efforts were in vain as the Ticos succumbed to defeat.

The result sees Mexico advance to the quarter-finals having won each of its three matches and earned a +13 goal difference. There, the Tricolor will take on the third-place finishers in either Group B or C, depending on which team finishes with the best record. Costa Rica, too, qualify and will face the runner-up of Group B.

First Half:

Mexico's first goal came in the 17th minute, as Rafa Marquez charged into the box to head home a Pablo Barrera corner kick. The Red Bulls man lost his marker and left Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas with no chance.

Just two minutes later, Andres Guardado produced one of the goals of this, or any other tournament. Israel Castro floated a ball into Guardado, who volleyed first time with his left foot from the top of the 18-yard box. The ball scorched the upper corner of the net, flying past the extended arms of Navas. Quite simply, it was a moment of brilliance.

Mexico wasn't even close to being done though, and after producing a couple more gilt-edged chances, it finally found its third in the 26th minute.

Guardado took advantage of a bad turnover by Heiner Mora in the right side of Costa Rica's defense. Guardado then swooped into the box and hammered home past Navas' near post.

El Tri found a fourth before halftime when a classic counter-attack freed Barrera in the box after a lovely one-two with Carlos Salcido. The West Ham man made no mistake, firing low to Navas' near post.

The 4-0 halftime advantage adequately showed the absolute dominance of the Mexicans in the first half.

Second Half:

With the match out of reach, Costa Rica manager Ricardo La Volpe made two changes at the half, bringing on Oscar Duarte and Marco Urena.

Mexico continued to create chances against a leaky Costa Rica defense, but Keylor Navas proved up to the task, saving well on a number of occasions to keep his side's deficit at four.

In the 69th minute, Costa Rica found a consolation goal, as Bryan Ruiz chipped over the Mexican defense to an unmarked Urena. The striker took it down on his chest and fired home to the far post on the half-volley to make the Mexican lead 4-1.

That was all the scoring though, as both sides took their foot off the gas in the game's final 15 minutes, with both teams' quarterfinal passage assured.

Mexico advances to the quarterfinals as the Group A winner, with three wins in three matches. Costa Rica also advances in second place, as its +2 goal differential was superior to El Salvador's, which was zero. Both Costa Rica and El Salvador finished with four points, with a win, a loss and a draw.

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