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Game for the ages as T&T, Mexico in eight goal thriller
Juventud Independiente defender Yohance Marshall scored in the final seconds of the fourth minute of injury time as T&T Soca Warriors rallied from a pair of second-half deficits to earn a 4-4 draw with Mexico in one of the wildest matches in Concacaf Gold Cup history, at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Both Mexico and T&T went at it for the Group C crown as though they were playing in the final, and at the end of the match, both sides left it on the field and more importantly, in the net in a game for the ages. The Mexicans entered the competition as one of the favourites but found themselves behind the Soca Warriors, and needed victory to top the group, while T&T needed only a draw.
And in front of a packed stadium and enthusiastic fans—mostly Mexican—the teams put on a show and a half with plenty of lead changes and momentum shifts. The four goals was the most Mexico had ever given up in a Gold Cup game and it was also the highest scoring tie in tournament history.
The Stephen Hart-coached T&T had to come from 0-2 down to take a 3-2 lead in the 67th minute before a wild finish resulted in three goals in under ten minutes. Mexico went ahead through Paul Aguilar in the 32nd minute when a left-sided cross by Yasser Corona into the box found Carlos Vela, who back-headed the ball towards the far post.
After breaking free from his marker, Aguilar squeezed the ball between goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and the woodwork for his first Gold Cup goal. Six minutes into the second half, 26-year-old Vela dribbled into the left side of the box, before cutting inside, and right-footing a shot that glanced off the near post, before crossing the line.
Instead of buckling, T&T, led by Kenwyne Jones grabbed hold of the game for with a display strength, skill and cleverness that won’t soon be forgotten. In the 55th minute, Jones dribbled 40 yards into the Mexican penalty area and drew defenders Francisco Javier Rodriguez and Diego Reyes towards him.
Sensing an imbalance, Jones poked the ball left towards a racing Keron “Ball Pest” Cummings, who swooped in to finish with his left foot from nine-yards out. Jones equalised three minutes later, making a brilliant off-the-ball run towards the left post, which allowed him to slot coolly Cordell Cato’s right-sided feed past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
T&T took a 3-2 lead in the 67th minute with an incredibly well-worked play off a right-sided throw-in by Aubrey David, who connected with Jones in the box. As Jones was chesting the ball down, two T&T players made planned runs in different directions, seemingly causing confusion in the Mexican defense.
As a result, Cummings was left unattended, allowing him to lash beyond Ochoa into the far-side netting with his left foot from 12 yards. Mexico, though, spurred on by a vociferous crowd buckled down and netted twice to regain the lead. First, Andres Guardado equalised in the 87th minute, half-volleying a short clearance that took a slight deflection off the head of Mekeil Williams and eluded Phillip’s desperate right hand attempt push overbear.
Mexico thought first place was theirs one minute into stoppage time, when Miguel Layun—positioned on the left—collected a ball punched in his direction by Phillip. The former Club America star dribbled into the box and sent what appeared to be a half shot-half pass in front of the net, where it deflected off Jones and into the goal. Prior to anyone having time to catch their collective breaths, T&T was back on level terms as Joevin Jones’ in-swinging, left-side corner kick was met by a powerful
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