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Santiago Giménez scores late to lift Mexico to record ninth Gold Cup triumph

Eight months and two coaches after Mexico crashed out of an embarrassing World Cup, most of the same players triumphantly raised the CONCACAF Gold Cup amid confetti and raucous cheers Sunday night.

El Tri has reversed its fortunes with stunning speed, and its winning goal at SoFi Stadium came on an end-to-end play that was every bit as dramatic.

Late substitute Santiago Giménez scored after an electrifying sprint in the 88th minute, and Mexico won the Gold Cup for the record ninth time with a 1-0 victory over Panama.

Santiago Giménez celebrates after scoring in the 88th minute for Mexico in a 1-0 victory

Santiago Giménez celebrates after scoring in the 88th minute for Mexico in a 1-0 victory over Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Sunday.   (Matthew Ashton / AMA via Getty Images)

After Edson Álvarez slid to block Iván Anderson’s cross in the Mexico penalty area, Orbelín Pineda dribbled away and made a tremendous pass into the center circle. Giménez, 22-year-old Feyenoord forward, dribbled past Harold Cummings and outraced Cummings and Fidel Escobar into the penalty area.

Giménez scuffed a bouncing left-foot shot over goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera for his fourth goal in 18 international appearances and his second of the tournament.

“We’re living a dream right now,” said Jaime Lozano, the interim coach under contract only for the Gold Cup.

The goal by the Argentina-born Giménez, who came on only three minutes earlier, set off a frenzied celebration at a Southern California stadium packed with fans celebrating Mexico’s revival in this biennial CONCACAF tournament. After Mexico was eliminated in the group stage of the World Cup for the first time since 1978, El Tri rebounded with an excellent tournament under Lozano, who took over the beleaguered program only a month ago after a Nations League loss to the U.S.

“Today the environment was like being in a World Cup,” Lozano said through a translator. “It wasn’t like a Gold Cup. I’m dreaming after I saw a stadium like we saw today, and to provide people with the happiness we’ve seen. Again, the team gave everything. We knew that we were writing history, and you have to take these opportunities.”

Mexico, which allowed just two goals in its matches, has won this tournament more than all other nations combined. The U.S. has seven Gold Cup titles and Canada one.

 Giménez’s late goal ended an inspiring Gold Cup run by Panama, which upset the U.S. in the semifinals to earn its third appearance in the final. Los Canaleros couldn’t get several solid scoring chances past veteran Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Panama also lost the Gold Cup final in 2005 and 2013, both to the US.

“We gave everything we had,” coach Thomas Christiansen said through a translator.

“The team died standing. There is nothing I can regret from my players. Some people remove the (postgame) medals when they are the runner-ups, but I told them they should be proud of the achievements because of the soccer they played.”

Credit: USA Today

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