INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Mexico disappointed at the 2022 World Cup and in last month’s CONCACAF Nations League finals, but El Tri finally gave its fans something to celebrate Sunday at a sold-out SoFi Stadium by beating Panama to claim a record ninth Gold Cup title.
After a scoreless 87 minutes, Santiago Giménez came off the bench to score a worthy tournament-winning goal on a brilliant individual run from the midfield:
Santiago Giménez’s moment of BRILLIANCE seals Mexico’s 1-0 victory over Panama in the Gold Cup Final
Here are a few quick takeaways following the match:
Play of the game: While Panama bent but didn’t break until the very end, Mexico could have been well on its way to the title far earlier had Canaleros goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera not made a point-blank double save late in the first half to keep Mexico off the board and get his team into the locker room at the intermission still on level terms:
Turning point: After a cagey opening 30-plus minutes, Mexico’s Henry Martín finally broke the deadlock by scoring what looked to be the opening goal. But upon review, the video assistant referee determined that Martín was offside on the play:
There was no out for Panama the next time Mexico found the net, though. With the match still scoreless and extra time just minutes away, 22-year-old rising star Giménez finally gave El Tri the lead they deserved, sending the mostly green-clad crowd of almost 73,000 into delirium with the decisive strike.
Key stat: Mexico allowed 12 shots on goal in the finale, more than they had against any opponent en route to the championship match. But just two of those Panamanian efforts were on target. El Tri keeper Memo Ochoa saved both with ease.
The Mexicans didn’t necessarily have their shooting boots on, either, getting only seven of their 23 tries on frame. Still, the five-shot swing was enough to get Mexico the only goal it needed to lift the trophy and claim its first regional crown since 2019.
What’s next for Mexico: After replacing the Argentine coach Diego Cocca, who was fired after the Nations League debacle that included a 3-0 pasting by chief rivals the U.S., Jaime Lozano got the best out of Mexico all tournament (a meaningless loss to Qatar in the group stage final notwithstanding).
There was still a sense that the interim boss needed to win this competition to earn the job on a permanent basis. Now he has the silverware in hand. It remains to be seen if that will be enough for Lozano will get the temporary designation lifted from his title, but his players clearly responded to working with him.
El Tri’s supporters are also firmly behind Lozano, who would become the first Mexican to lead the national team since Miguel Herrera was fired in 2015.
What’s next for Panama: The high-water mark for Panama was the country’s participation in its first World Cup in 2018. But despite missing out on Qatar 2022, the Canaleros have clearly taken a massive step forward under third-year manager Thomas Christiansen, and it showed all summer.
Panama narrowly lost to Mexico last month in the Nations League third place match. Christiansen’s defensively sound team was even better at the Gold Cup, knocking out the defending champion U.S. on penalties in the semifinal and keeping the title favorites off the scoreboard for almost the entire match on Sunday.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to pull off what would’ve been a shocking upset. But it showed that Panama will be a regional force to reckon with in the years ahead. And with the World Cup field expanding to 48 teams in 2026, it’s hard to see the Canaleros not making their back to the global stage again three short years from now.
Mexico vs. Panama Highlights | CONCACAF Gold Cup Final
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports, and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter at @ByDougMcIntyre.
Get more from Gold Cup Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more