OAKLAND, California - Guadeloupe, surprise Gold Cup semi-finalists in 2007, showed they may be able to repeat that performance, opening their campaign with a 2-1 win over Panama while Mexico laboured to beat Nicaragua 2-0. Panama, the current champions of Central America, fell behind in the 33rd minute when Loic Loval slotted home after latching on to a weak chest back to the keeper by defender Armando Gun. Guadeloupe, which is a French territory and not a member of FIFA and therefore unable to compete in World Cup qualifiers, doubled their advantage two minutes before the break through a brilliant long-range strike from David Fleurival. Nelson Barahona pulled one back for Panama in the 68th minute and despite some late pressure were unable to get an equaliser. In the other Group C game, four-times Gold Cup winners Mexico, who like the United States, are fielding a largely second string squad in the competition, went ahead on the stroke of half-time through a Luis Noriega penalty. The spot-kick was hotly contested by the Nicaraguans who argued there was no contact when Solorzano David challenged Jose Martino Salez. Mexico struggled to turn their possession against the dogged Nicaraguans into real chances but five minutes from the end Pablo Barrera (pictured) side-footed home an Alberto Medina cross to secure the victory.
6 July 2009
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