First-half trio lifts Trinidad past Guatemala

Trinidad & Tobago's Sheldon Bateau (pictured) celebrates after scoring the 700th goal in CONCACAF Gold Cup history in a win over Guatemala on July 9, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Mexsport)

CHICAGO, Illinois -- Trinidad & Tobago surprised Guatemala with three goals in the first 25 minutes for a 3-1 victory in the Group C opener of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Thursday night.

Sheldon Bateau, Cordell Cato and Joevin Jones scored for the Caribbean runner-up in what was the 250th overall game in the tournament’s history. Striker Carlos Ruiz netted for Guatemala in the second half at Soldier Field.

Trinidad took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, when Bateau poked a Khaleem Hyland corner kick of the right post and into the net. Bateau beat his defender to the ball as he charged into the six-yard box, getting enough of it to beat goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez.

It didn’t take long for the Soca Warriors to strike again. After an error between Jerez and a defender, Cato stole the ball and sprinted to his right. The San Jose Earthquakes midfielder then drilled a shot into an open net for a 2-0 lead in the 14th minute.

Joevin Jones added his first international goal for Trinidad in the 25th minute, initiating a give-and-go with Kenwyne Jones, who returned the ball. In return, the Chicago Fire midfielder fed Cato, who fired an attempt that Jerez deflected. Jones was there to bury the rebound with a right-footed blast.

Guatemala couldn’t find an answer for Trinidad’s attack. Head Coach Ivan Spegno’s team regrouped at the break, though, and came out looking to be more aggressive. The Chapines had some dangerous plays early on.

One of those translated to Ruiz’ goal in the 62nd minute, cutting lead to 3-1. The Municipal striker brought down a pass into the area with his chest and rocketed home a right-footer beyond goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams for his eight career Gold Cup goal.

Ruiz, who has now found the back of the net in five Gold Cups, nearly set up another goal when he found Jose Contreras in the 79th minute with a rolling cross. Contreras couldn’t reach it with his extended right leg near the right post. Marco Pappa also sent a shot just wide left in the 87th minute.

Both teams travel to Glendale, Arizona to for their next matches at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday. Guatemala takes on Mexico, while Trinidad & Tobago faces Cuba.

NOTES: Sheldon Bateau’s goal was the 700th in CONCACAF Gold Cup history.