Two late strikes by Mexican forward Horacio Sanchez boosted Mexico to a 4-2 victory over South Africa Wednesday, putting the Mexicans in position to capture the US Cup soccer tournament.
The victory in front of 27,815 fans at the Cotton Bowl set up a winner-take-all match between Mexico and the United States at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. South Africa and Ireland, out of the running in the round-robin tournament after failing to win a match to date, will close out the seventh-annual competition in the second match of Sunday's double-header.
Sanchez, the nephew of Mexican coach Hugo Sanchez, came on as a second-half substitute in the 79th minute to add his second and third goals of the tournament in just five minutes.
In the 80th minute, Sanchez neatly finished a looping breakaway pass off the head of Mexico's Luis Perez, and then just three minutes later, the 22-year-old forward redirected a pass from the left flank from Jaime Lozano into the far side-netting past goalkeeper Andre Arendse.
After an opening 35 minutes, in which South Africa had several chances to strike first, the Mexican duo of Jesus Olade Luis Perez combined on back-to-back goals five minutes apart to put the Tri-Colores on the road to victory.
The first goal came in the 39th minute and saw Perez slide a short pass to Olade, breaking down the right wing, who beat the offside trap and carried the ball 30 yards into the penalty area before calmly placing a shot through the legs of South African goalkeeper Andre Arendse.
In the 43rd minute, Olade returned the favor to Perez by setting him up on a short square pass from outside the penalty area. The pass sent Perez into the left side of the box where the unmarked midfielder slotted a low line-drive just inside the far post past Arendse.
South Africa scored their first US Cup goal in the 52nd minute, with Benni McCarthy notching his 14th international goal by pouncing on a saved blast from Dumisi Ngobe, whose initial shot was barely kept out of the net by a sprawling finger-tip save from Mexican goalkeeper Sergio Bernal. Bernal's acrobatic save went for naught, though, when the ball rolled perfectly to the onrushing McCarthy, who slammed the ball home from four yards out.
Despite a number of chances to tie the game, Mexico iced the game with Sanchez's tallies, before South Africa's Thabo Mngomeni converted a penalty in the 89th minute – (AFP)
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