Uriel Antuna Nets Hat Trick as Mexico Routs Cuba 7-0 at 2019 Gold Cup

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2019

PASADENA, CA - JUNE 15: Uriel Antuna #22 of Mexico celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during a CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A match between Mexico and Cuba at Rose Bowl on June 15, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Omar Vega/Getty Images

Mexico opened up its 2019 Gold Cup play with a 7-0 victory over Cuba at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Saturday.

Uriel Antuna (three), Raul Jimenez (two), Diego Reyes and Alexis Vega all tallied goals for El Tri while Guillermo Ochoa recorded a clean sheet.


Group A Standings

Mexico 1-0-0 (3 points, +7 goal differential)

Canada 1-0-0 (3 points, +4 goal differential)

Martinique 0-0-1 (0 points, -4 goal differential)

Cuba 0-0-1 (0 points, -7 goal differential)


El Tri set the tone right from the start in this match, getting a second-minute goal from Antuna off a rebound:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

MEXICO TAKE THE LEAD! Uriel Antuna scores his first international goal and puts Mexico on 🔝 just two minutes into the match. https://t.co/l5pPzKxRp6

Interestingly, the 21-year-old Antuna was not even a confirmed member of the Gold Cup roster until Friday. The LA Galaxy midfielder was an injury replacement for Jorge Sanchez. And given the chance to start, he made his presence felt immediately.

Mexico would continue to keep the pressure on goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez and the Cuba defense.

While El Tri had a number of chances early on, it was not until the 31st minute that they were able to add to their lead:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

RAUL JIMENEZ! 💪 He finds the back of the net and puts 🇲🇽 up 2-0 in the first half! https://t.co/J1QheFxTGs

A few moments later, Reyes put one home following a corner kick to extend the lead to three:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

And just like that it's 3-0 Mexico! Reyes is there to collect the rebound and extends the lead to 3 in the first half. https://t.co/969HsZGSZy

The offensive barrage continued, as Antuna put the finishing touches on a dominant first half by netting his second of the match:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

ANTUNA SCORES AGAIN! The 21-year-old scores his second of the half and the goal fest continues for Mexico. https://t.co/8PZI67HY0t

Having entered the night without an international goal to his name, the first half was quite the showing for Antuna:

Cesar Hernandez @cesarhfutbol

HT Mexico 4-0 Cuba All Mexico right now. Antuna so far the hero of the night with two goals for El Tri. Jimenez, Guardado and Reyes also doing plenty to add to the one-sided scoreline. #ElTriEng

It was a first half that was completely controlled by Mexico. Possession (76-24), shots (15-0) and shots on goal (6-0) all heavily favored the Red, Green and White in the opening 45 minutes.

And there was no looking back.

As impressive as Antuna was, Jimenez was just as solid. He notched a brace of his own near the midway point in the second half:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

RAUL JIMENEZ MAKES IT 5! This pass + this finish = 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/28LLYOGEse

Mexico wasn't done, though.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Alexis Vega adds ANOTHER for Mexico! The 21-year-old scores his first international goal and makes it 6-0. https://t.co/JgnYe5I4c5

Antuna put the cherry on top of the blowout victory by finishing off his hat trick in the 80th minute:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

TOUCHDOWN AT THE ROSEBOWL! Uriel Antuna completes his hat trick as the goals keep coming for Mexico at #GoldCup2019 https://t.co/jDuqAxpcS7

Having entered the match with just two international appearances, a three-goal, one-assist effort certainly can't be overlooked.

It was quite the start for Mexico after a disappointing finish in its previous Gold Cup appearance. While El Tri have won three of the last five Gold Cups, they came up short in their last go-round, falling 1-0 to Jamaica in the semifinals in 2017.

That loss is still fresh in the mind of the 28-year-old Jimenez.

"Personally, I've never won [the Gold Cup]," Jimenez told ESPN correspondent Tom Marshall earlier this year. "I've only been once and we finished in the semifinal, so I'm coming in with passion, pride and the drive to win it...it is something that I'm missing."

He certainly backed up his talk in the opener.

Chad Johnson @ochocinco

Raul Jimenez is 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/265dV97Jdu

The combination of Jimenez and Antuna helped get Mexico's quest for a record eighth Gold Cup title off to a promising start.


What's Next

Mexico and Cuba will both be back in action on Wednesday in Denver, Colorado. Mexico will have a battle for first place in Group A with Canada, and Cuba will take on Martinique.