Mexico had a golden chance to salvage a Group C victory at the 2015 Gold Cup Wednesday evening after taking a 4-3 lead thanks to a 90th-minute own goal from Kenwyne Jones, but Trinidad and Tobago used a set piece in the game's waning second to score a thrilling 94th-minute equalizer and close out the group stage with a 4-4 draw and seven points.
All told, three goals were scored over the match's final four minutes as Trinidad and Tobago mounted two separate comebacks to stave off the Group C favorites.
Trinidad trailed 2-0 following 50 minutes of play, but that deficit was quickly erased thanks to Kenwyne Jones and Keron Cummings, who combined to score three goals in the span of 12 minutes to give their side a 3-2 lead.
Mexico's Andres Guardado leveled the score 3-3 in the 87th minute, and Jones' own goal appeared to seal a group-stage victory for El Tri.
The Gold Cup relayed video of the momentarily disastrous feat on Twitter:
However, Yohance Marshall headed home the game's final goal with essentially no time remaining to preserve the draw, as Fox Soccer noted:
"In a tournament like this, you have to win," Mexico manager Miguel Herrera said Tuesday, according to Fox Sports' Kyle McCarthy. "The important thing is to play well and win. I remember in the game against Guatemala, we had 81 percent to 19 percent possession of the ball, yet we could not score, which is the most important thing."
On Wednesday, Mexico had no problem scoring, but its 5-3-2 formation provided little resistance on the defensive end as the game wore on.
Mexico consistently made runs into the final third throughout the first 30 minutes, but its efforts were stymied by a stingy Trinidad and Tobago defense that entered the evening having allowed two goals over its past four Gold Cup appearances.
ESPN FC took note of the dearth of solid opportunities:
However, that trend was bucked in the 31st minute after Mexico used a brilliant header from Carlos Vela to Paul Aguilar, who calmly slotted one home as he sneaked in and capitalized at the back post.
The Gold Cup passed along video of the match's first tally:
Of course, Mexico's superiority in the personnel department meant it was only a matter of time before El Tri broke through.
"Head coach Miguel Herrera’s men are absolutely stacked in the offensive third," CONCACAF.com noted. "Even without the services of star striker Javier Hernandez – who was ruled out of the tournament with a collarbone injury – Mexico still boasts a trinity of world class attacking talent in Carlos Vela, Giovani Dos Santos and Oribe Peralta."
During a first half that was defined by Mexico's attack and Trinidad and Tobago's complacency to sit back and defend, El Tri out-possessed the opposition, 58-42, while notching a three-shot edge (5-2).
The Gold Cup provided a complete overview of the first frame's statistical discrepancies:
Play opened up considerably to start the second half, and although Vela used some stellar finesse to squeak Mexico's second goal home off the left post, Mexico's lead wouldn't stand for long.
Trinidad remained patient and pursued aggressive counterattacks, with its first tally coming courtesy of Cummings, according to the Gold Cup:
Three minutes later, Jones knotted things up behind more beautiful buildup on the counter, as the Gold Cup documented:
If you need to catch your breath, the next few days will provide you with an opportunity to do so.
By virtue of winning Group C, Trinidad and Tobago will be back in action Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET against Panama, while Mexico is slated to square off against Costa Rica at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday in quarterfinal play.
Selected Player Grades
Giovani Dos Santos: B
The newest member of the Los Angeles Galaxy was active early, evidenced by his run in the second minute that resulted in a Trinidad and Tobago foul right outside the box. While the ensuing set piece didn't produce a shot on goal, Dos Santos' energy helped set the tone as Mexico slowly but steadily began to chip away against a stout opposing defense.
A quality right-footed look inside the box in the 41st minute could have put Mexico up 2-0, but the ball just drifted wide.
However, Dos Santos took a knock toward the end of the first half when he leaped for a ball and collided with Yohance Marshall. After hitting the pitch and then limping off with an apparent leg injury, Dos Santos was replaced by Oribe Peralta to start the second half.
Keron Cummings: A+
Cummings' brace made him the game's high scorer on an evening when eight balls found the back of the net. His firecracker in the 66th minute was the evening's most stunning goal, as it came courtesy of some cunning one-two play inside the box.
Take a look, courtesy of Fox Soccer:
A strike like that deserves the highest grade possible.
Kenwyne Jones: B
Jones was an integral component of Trinidad's fierce attack throughout the second half. He brought Trinidad all the way back to tie things at 2-2, and at the time, it appeared as though that would be enough to keep his side atop the group.
Had Trinidad and Tobago been unable to provide some last-second heroics, though, Jones' grade would have plummeted toward a sub-average mark due to the potentially back-breaking own goal.