ATLANTA (AP) — Mexico and Panama set up a semifinal rematch in the CONCACAF Gold Cup after each won their quarterfinal matches on Saturday.
Panama beat 10-man Cuba 6-1, while Mexico escaped with a 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago. Panama is unbeaten thus far in the tournament, with three wins, including a 2-1 victory over Mexico in group play, and a draw.
Mexico, a six-time Gold Cup champion, is going for its third straight title, but has not played well at all this year, putting coach Jose Manuel De La Torre's job at risk. The United States faces El Salvador and Honduras takes on Costa Rica in the other quarterfinal matches on Sunday.
Mexico's Raul Jimenez beat diving goalkeeper Jan Williams with a shot into the left corner of the net in the 84th minute to lead his side to victory over Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico dominated the match, but Williams foiled several Mexican scoring opportunities, deflecting two shots in a one-minute span in the second half, to keep the Trinidadians in the contest.
De La Torre chafed when asked after the match if he thought his side got a weak victory. "You don't like it? We saw a different game," De La Torre said. "That's what I can tell you. Every time we win, we have to enjoy it. A win is a win, but that is enough. We always have to fix things but we also did a lot of great things tonight."
Mexico has won just one of six World Cup qualifiers this year, scoring only three goals and drawing with the likes of Jamaica, Costa Rica and Panama. Mexico also failed to reach the semifinals of the Confederations Cup, dropping its first two matches to Italy and Brazil.
De La Torre believed his team showed composure on Saturday to persistently pressure Williams in hopes he would make a mistake. "The team did not become desperate," he said. "They were under our strategy and our plan in order to win. It was very good on our end that we (took care of) the sides, the middle and the center."
Cuba took a 1-0 lead against Panama on Jose Ciprian's goal in the 21st minute, but Gabriel Torres' penalty four minutes later leveled the score, and his second goal gave Panama the lead for good in the 38th minute. Torres has five goals in four Gold Cup games.
Cuba played a man down and gave up four goals in the last 32 minutes after Ariel Martinez was given a red card for a hard foul against Blas Perez. Perez scored twice, and Carlos Rodriguez and Jairo Jimenez also netted for Panama.
Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes said he was upset by his team's lapse in concentration early in the game. "It came in a moment when Panama was dominating the game, and we were looking to attack," Valdes said. "It's very difficult when you get scored upon because it gets very complicated. We had to continue to pursue the attack."
Panama, which has never won the Gold Cup, hasn't allowed more than one goal in eight straight matches in the tournament. The Panamanians lost to the U.S. in the semifinals two years ago.