Controversial Penalty Sends Mexico to 2019 Gold Cup Final with Win vs. Haiti

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIIJuly 3, 2019

GLENDALE, AZ - JULY 02:  Raul Jimenez of Mexico during the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Semi Final between Haiti and Mexico at State Farm Stadium on July 2, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

For the second game in a row, Mexico was taken to extra time in the 2019 Gold Cup.

And for the second time in a row, Mexico outlasted its opponent—this time defeating Haiti 1-0 Tuesday night in the semifinal match at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Mexico had held the lion's share of possession and scoring chances throughout regulation but lacked precision in the final third, which allowed Haiti to bend but not break. However, just as soon as extra time kicked off, Haiti's Herve Bazile conceded a penalty in the box.

El Tri's No. 9 Raul Jimenez stepped up to the spot and buried the game-winner in the 93rd minute.

Haiti managed to create one more promising chance in the 119th minute, but Mikael Cantave hit the crossbar.

There were varying opinions over whether the decisive foul was worthy of a penalty kick, but with video assistant referee not present at this year's Gold Cup, the call stood pat.

Mexico head coach Tata Martino, who was suspended for the semifinal due to yellow-card accumulation, voiced his displeasure about the officiating this far in the tournament.

"The officiating was bad, what else can I say?" the first-year head coach told reporters in regard to Mexico's win over Costa Rica in the quarterfinals, in which 11 yellow cards were handed out—including one to him—and a controversial penalty kick was awarded to Costa Rica.

Martino continued: "It is impossible with the technology there is today and with VAR used in Mexico and in the United States that there isn't VAR in this tournament. In the Copa America they stop the game 200 times for VAR, they've pulled back four goals because of VAR, and we don't have VAR."

Ironically, the absence of VAR very well could be the reason Martino's side is through to the final and still able to vie for Mexico's eighth Gold Cup championship.

Entering Tuesday, Haiti had won all of its last eight competitive matches. This Gold Cup run marked a substantial step forward for the Haitian program, as the country topped its first Gold Cup group and advanced to its first semifinal after upsetting Canada.

However, it will take a while for Haiti to get over losing in such a heartbreaking way after handling Mexico so well for the bulk of the match. Haiti goalkeeper Johnny Placide stood out despite letting in the game-winner, withstanding 27 shots and saving five shots on goal.

Mexico's relatively tame performance against Haiti spelled out the same as its tame performance against Costa Rica on Saturday: It is beatable. Even with the game in this bag, Mexico's Luis Montes sent the ball sailing over an open goal to illustrate the team's Achilles' heel.

Either Jamaica or the United States has a shot at unseating the tournament's perennial favorite.

Jamaica and the U.S. will battle it out Wednesday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, to determine which side will advance to the final against Mexico on Sunday.

Jamaica defeated Mexico 1-0 in the semifinal round of the 2017 Gold Cup, while the U.S. last defeated El Tri in an international friendly back in September also by a score of 1-0.


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