Internationals | Mexico on course for Gold Cup quarter-finals

Raul Jimenez and his Mexico side have all but guaranteed themselves of a place in the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the USA after brushing aside Canada 3-1.

With the two Group A leaders going head-to-head in Denver in the early hours of Thursday morning, both sides knew three points would all but confirm their place in the quarter-final of the biennial North and Central American competition.

But it was Mexico who got the points they needed thanks to a double from substitute Andres Guardado after Roberto Alvarado put ‘El Tri’ ahead with just five minutes to go before half-time. As he did in Mexico’s opening game of the tournament against Cuba on Monday morning, Wolves striker Jimenez had a hand in all his country’s goals.

Firstly, the number nine took a shot which was well saved by Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, but the ball fell straight to the feet of Alvarado who made no mistake from eight yards out.

Showing his usually tenacity when the opposition is on the ball, Raul harried the Canada defence into a mistake on 54 minutes, leading to a misplaced pass straight to Guardado, who from 25-yards curled an unbelievable shot into the far corner of the goal to double Mexico’s advantage.

Jimenez was also involved in the neat Mexican build-up which led to the third goal, by playing a delightful pass through to Uriel Antuna who set up Guardado to finish sweetly and secure the win for their country.

Mexico will now face Martinique at 1am on Monday morning in their final group stage, knowing that a point will guarantee their place as the top team in Group A and set up a quarter-final clash with the runner-up of Group B.

Elsewhere this week, Morgan Gibbs-White was an unused substitute for England under-21s in their opening match of the U21 European Championships in Italy. After being promoted from the under-19s this summer, the Wolves midfielder stayed on the bench as England fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of France.

England will entertain Romania on Friday afternoon, with the match kicking off at 5.30pm, before their final match of Group C coming against Croatia on Monday evening. Gibbs-White will be hoping he can make his debut appearance for the under-21s in those fixtures.

Romain Saiss and Morocco will get their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Egypt underway on Sunday, with their first group match against Namibia kicking off at 3.30pm.

The Atlas Lions will also face matches against Ivory Coast and South Africa in a bid to reach the knockout stages, with the top two sides from Group C guaranteed a place in the last 16, while the four highest ranked third-placed sides will also make it through to the latter phases of the competition.