SANDY, Utah (AP) - Mexico will have a chance to defend its Olympic gold medal in men’s soccer.
Erick Torres and Hirving Lozano scored to lead El Tri over Canada 2-0 Saturday night for a berth in next year’s Olympics at Rio de Janeiro.
“What this team obtained is not minor,” Mexico coach Raul Gutierrez said. “Qualifying for the Olympic Games, for many people, could be something very simple, but it’s complicated. We’re proud of having obtained that.”
Torres, a midfielder with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, put El Tri ahead in the sixth minute when he outjumped Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare just outside the 6-yard box and scored on a header.
Hirving Lozano scored on a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area in the 57th minute to seal the deal.
“It’s surprising that Canada played such a defensive game,” Gutierrez said. “We really expected more than that and that part made it easier to reach our objective. It was a complicated game because it was hard to play against a team where all their players are up in the midfield.”
Canada’s best chance to score came in the 80th minute when Mexico goalkeeper Gibran Lajud stopped Michael Petrasso’s penalty kick and a follow-up shot from Jay Chapman. The Canadians put three shots on goal in the second half after totaling only one shot before halftime.
“If you’re creating opportunities, that’s always encouraging,” Canadian forward Benjamin Fisk-Routledge said. “Some days they go in, some days they don’t. The fact we’re getting in those spots and getting those chances is a sign of good things to come.”
Mexico and Honduras will meet in the rather meaningless final of the North and Central American and Caribbean region
Honduras earned CONCACAF’s other automatic berth with a 2-0 win over the United States.
Canada will play the U.S. in the third-place game Tuesday, and the winner meets Colombia at Rio from March 21-29 for another Olympic slot.
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