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Mexico Crush Haiti To Reach Gold Cup Semis

Mexico 4-0 Haiti
Gold Cup Fixtures, Results

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - Mexico pass through to the semi-finals of the Gold Cup after an emphatic win over a Haiti side whose heads dropped as the game progressed, the finalists of 2007 showing in no uncertain terms their superiority after a difficult start.

El Tri needed a penalty rebound to open the scoring amidst heroics from goalkeeper J. D. Zephirin, but a delicious strike from the excellent Giovani Dos Santos minutes before the interval saw to it that the Mexicans' lead was unassailable.

First Half

Mexico had the best of the early stages in terms of possession as Haiti's midfield sat back and invited pressure, Jairo Rios' men clearly bracing themselves for a long evening of last-ditch defending.

This they did with gusto, blocking almost all shots from the effervescent Giovani Dos Santos as Gerardo Torrado pulled the strings just behind. For all the slick passing and possession, though, the Mexican side did not look too convincing in these opening minutes.

On those occasions that did present clear-cut chances, such as a one-on-one for Miguel Sabah, Haitian goalkeeper Zephirin was having the time of his life with a series of one and one saves.

But his biggest test was yet to come. A drilled effort from Carlos Esquivel was apparently handled on the line by one of several deep-lying Haitian defenders.

Zephirin, who protested the loudest, did his best to put Sabah off with some pre-spot-kick jiving. It had the desired effect as Israel Castro's stop-start run resulted in an inaccurate shot that the 'keeper parried well. However, he could not prevent Sabah from sneaking in to score.

Following this success, the floodgates opened. Mexico drove forward again, an error from Frantz Gilles allowing Dos Santos to try his luck, only to be foiled by that man Zephiri. There was a rebound attempt by Sabah, but veteran skipper Pierre Bruny cleared it.

At the other end a lack of confidence and control prevented Haiti from making too much headway. Haiti's only joy was coming down left, Ednerson Raymond looking impressive, but even then Mexico were fairly comfortable.

The islanders paid the price as 'Gio' found the net just before the break.

It came in sweet fashion, too, Esquivel passing to Alberto Medina, who in turn flicked it into the path of Giovani Dos Santos. The ex-Barcelona man jinked past his marker before poking a looping effort in from 18 yards.

Second Half

Haiti came out with a renewed sense of vigor, an error from Ismail Rodriguez allowing Fabrice Noel to slip through on goal, but he couldn't quite get the shot off as the back line recovered.

It clearly was not going to be the Grenadiers' day, this being proved when Minneapolis-based Leonel Saint-Preux beat Efrain Juarez down the flank before swiping at thin air by way of a cross, the ball rolling out of play. As the forward lay on the ground, the gloating jeers echoed around the stadium. Rough justice, indeed.

Still, he did manage to force a save shortly afterward, and a corner, as Mexico's attempt at possession play died out time and again, albeit without too much threat to Guillermo Ochoa.

Again Mexico's cutting edge came to the fore, though, Giovani Dos Santos whipping in a superb corner just after the hour mark for Sabah to head home past Zephirin, who got the slightest of touches.

Saint-Preux fluffed a chance at the other end as Haiti looked to continue hit-and-hope chances, but overall it was their defence that was beginning to struggle as El Tri sought a fourth.

It duly came as once again Dos Santos turned provider, floating a far corner in for substitute Pablo Barrera to volley home.

Haiti's involvement in the tournament thus ends with a credible quarter-final finish, the same as they managed back in 2002. For Mexico, as the cheers from a near-capacity crowd in Arlington continue to ring out, there's still all to play for.

Ewan Macdonald,

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