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Corona keeps Mexico from slipping in win vs. Curacao to top Group C

Corona keeps Mexico from slipping in win vs. Curacao to top Group C
From ESPN - July 16, 2017

SAN ANTONIO -- Mexico finished top of Group C in the Gold Cup thanks to its 2-0 victory over Curacao in front of 44,232 in the Alamodome in San Antonio. Angel Sepulveda opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, with Edson Alvarez wrapping up the scoring in second-half injury time.

The win sets up a quarterfinal against Honduras on Thursday in Phoenix. Here are three takes from the match:

1. Corona stars in goal for El Tri

The fact Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona was the man of the match tells the story of a game El Tri came all too close to letting slip.

Mexico took the lead early when Sepulveda headed in at the back post from a cross swung in by Raul Lopez. From there, the outcome should have been a mere formality against a side already out of the Gold Cup. But Mexico was reliant on a string of quality saves from Cruz Azul's 36-year-old keeper to keep it in the lead.

The best chance early on came from Curacao's Gino Van Kessel, who must have thought he'd scored when he sent a right-footed shot toward the bottom corner of the goal, but Corona managed to react quickly and flicked the ball around the post with his right hand.

From there in the first half, it was a familiar story, with Mexico controlling possession and Curacao not looking particularly dangerous. At halftime, the feeling was that El Tri would pull away from Curacao and even notch a few goals.

Instead, it was Curacao with the better opportunities, with Corona pulling off the type of save in the 56th minute that is up there with the flashy shot-stopping for which his Mexico rival Guillermo Ochoa is famous. Jarchinio Antonia hit the bar right after in a period in which Mexico was on the ropes.

Mexico's inexperience shone through against a team with little to lose, and Osorio should be concerned about El Tri's inability to control a game against an opposition that might have been the second-highest in Group C in terms of FIFA rankings but is far from a real power.

Mexico scraped the result in the end, and Alvarez made the score line look better than it deserved to be with a late second for El Tri, but there are concerns defensively with the way teams such as El Salvador and Curacao have sliced the side open and created so many good opportunities.

Thankfully for El Tri on Sunday, the side had an in-form Corona to back it up, but Mexico will have to improve if it is to win the Gold Cup.

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