PHOENIX, Arizona – There was never a doubt in Raul Jimenez’s mind that he would convert the penalty that sent Mexico to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Final.
Just three minutes into extra time in Tuesday night’s semifinal with Haiti, Jimenez stood over a spot kick with the stakes at its very highest.
Three days after having a penalty saved in Mexico’s 5-4 penalty shootout win over Costa Rica, Jimenez’s belief was intact as he approached the spot 11 meters away from the Haiti goal.
“I was very calm, very confident, knowing that I take them in excellent fashion. I think that the penalty that I missed three days ago is in the past and this was a good way of leaving it behind. I’m happy for being able to contribute with a goal and that we’re in the final,” said Jimenez in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com following Mexico’s 1-0 extra time victory.
Jimenez also provided a bit of insight into how he approaches taking penalties.
“I watch [the goalkeeper’s] movement a little bit before I kick it. That’s where I decide to shoot it to the opposite side of where he has dived. He moved a little bit before and that helped me strike it to the other side,” said Jimenez.
With the win, Mexico has qualified for its first Gold Cup final since 2015 and it will be the first for Jimenez, who is appearing in his second career Gold Cup.
“It feels great to be in my first Gold Cup final. I’m very happy. In 2013, we only made the semifinals. Sadly we didn’t make the final, but now I’m very happy to be in the final, which is what we wanted and now we have to fight to take home the title,” said Jimenez.
With just one match remaining, Jimenez says that the focus is on bringing home Mexico’s eighth Gold Cup crown on Sunday in Chicago.
“We’re staying calm, we’re just a step away, but first we know that the final has to be played. We can’t just think that we’re champions, so we’re staying calm and looking forward to Sunday and give it our all to be champions,” concluded Jimenez.