On-target Mexico tops El Salvador; Hernandez stars in win
Mexico’s Elias Hernandez (#11) celebrate after scoring against El Salvador in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 9, 2017, in San Diego, California, USA. (Photo: AFP Services)
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SAN DIEGO, California – Mexico launched its title defense with an impressive 3-1 win over El Salvador as both opened their 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaigns in front of a crowd of 53,133 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Jamaica defeated Curacao, 2-0, in the other Group C match.

In an entertaining first half, Mexico raced out to a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute, when Guadalajara defender Hedgardo Marin latched onto an Elias Hernandez free kick at the back post, leapt over defender Bryan Tamacas and headed in from the edge of the six-yard box.

Just two minutes later, El Salvador equalized.  Rodolfo Zelaya slipped a superb ball into the right side of the area for a sprinting Nelson Bonilla, who slotted a low, right-footed past charging goalkeeper Jesus Corona from 12-yards out.  It was the fastest in the Salvadorans’ Gold Cup history.

A sensational volley by Hernandez – the man of the match -- put the Tricolor in front, 2-1, in the 29th minute.  From the right, Jesus Gallardo played a cross into the box, where a perfectly timed right-footed effort by the Leon midfielder from 10-yards found the back of the net.

Mexico put the game out of reach ten minutes into the second half.  Benji Villalobos, the El Salvador goalkeeper, was unable to handle a Hernandez cross, allowing Orbelin Pineda to easily tap in with his knee and extend his team’s advantage.

Next Up: El Salvador faces Curacao, while Mexico meets Jamaica in a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup final at Sports Authority Field in Denver on July 13.

Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Mexico v El Salvador
Mexico v El Salvador, July 09, 2017. (Photo: AFP)