MIAMI, Florida–The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup kicks off on Saturday, June 15 with action in Group A, including Mexico and Cuba clashing at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
In the history between the two nations, Mexico has won all three encounters, but it was their first ever meeting in a Gold Cup in 2007 that remains one of the most thrilling group stage matches in Gold Cup history.
The date was June 8, 2007 and the scene was Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. El Tricolor arrived into the contest looking to kick off Group C with a decisive win, but it was apparent right away that Cuba was going to make things difficult.
The Cuban defense absorbed the early pressure from Mexico and then looked to strike on the counterattack, which they did to perfection in the 22’, as Reynier Alcantara received a pass at the top of the Mexico penalty area, made a move to his right and curled in a right-footed shot past Mexico GK Guillermo Ochoa to give Cuba a 1-0 lead.
The islanders were excelling at the other end, too. Just two minutes after Alcantara’s strike, Cuba GK Odelin Molina made a superb save to deny Mexico’s Nery Castillo of a goal.
Mexico continued to increase the pressure in hopes of an equalizer, and it would come shortly before halftime when Jared Borgetti turned in a header off an Adolfo Batista pass in the 37’ to level the score 1-1.
Molina made sure it stayed tied going into halftime with another top-notch save, this time with a kick-save on a Fernando Arce effort from point-blank range.
The second half started with Mexico on the front foot and El Triclor took a 2-1 lead in the 55’ when a Francisco Fonseca shot was blocked by Molina into the path of Castillo, who had an easy push into net for the goal.
Still, Molina kept Cuba in the match in the final minutes by making a spectacular save off a Fonseca header.
In the end, Mexico would see out the 2-1 victory, but the close encounter was a great testament to the growth of Cuban football, and now the current Cuban team will be out to wage another Gold Cup classic with Mexico to open the 2019 tournament.