Mexico‘s Gold Cup quest got off to an emphatic start with a crushing 6-0 demolition of short-handed Cuba in their opening game at Soldier Field. In the other Group C game Thursday, Trinidad & Tobago also got off to a flying start with a 3-1 victory over Guatemala in Chicago.
Cuba had been left with just 16 players to face powerhouse Mexico, who have won the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament six times, and were taught a harsh lessn. Oribe Peralta scored a hat trick while Giovani dos Santos, Andres Guardado and Carlos Vela scored a goal each in the rout for El Tri, who finished with 18 shots on goal to Cuba‘s one.
Peralta opened the scoring with a right footed shot from the center of the box in the 17th minute after seizing control of a headed pass from teammate Guardado. Vela capitalized on poor clearing attempt by the Cuban defense five minutes later to make it 2-0 before Peralta potted his second of the game with a blast to the bottom left corner in the 37th minute.
Guardado snuck past the defense to head another in and make it 4-0 before the half and then Peralta completed his treble by outjumping goalkeeper Disovelis Guerra and a defender to head it home halfway through the second half.
The game was a rematch of the 2011 Gold Cup group stage game, which Mexico won 5-0. Mexico has met USA in three of the last five finals but the El Tri have been experiencing a rough patch of late as they have been hit by some key injuries and came into this tournament on a seven-match losing streak.
Trinidad & Tobago, meanwhile, stunned Guatemala with three goals in the opening 25 minutes then held on for the easy win in the early game. Sheldon Bateau, Cordell Cato and Joevin Jones scored for the Caribbean side, with striker Carlos Ruiz netting the lone goal for Guatemala in the second half.