Blanco’s rebound tally in 96th minute propels Mexico over U.S. 1-0.MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Sunday, August 1, 1999) -- If Cuauhtemoc Blanco couldn’t get it right the first time, he was certain not to waste a second chance. The striker scored off a rebound from seven yards six minutes into sudden death to give Mexico a 1-0 victory over the United States in a Confederations Cup semifinal before 65,000 at Azteca Stadium this afternoon.
Mexico dominated the entire 95-plus minutes, but found itself facing a penalty-kicks tiebreaker if they couldn’t solve hot U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller in 30 minutes of overtime.
In the 96th minute, Blanco started the winning sequence by freeing Miguel Zepeda deep in right side of box. His cross went to Jose Abundis, who directed a header for the left corner. The ball, however, caromed off the back of defender Robin Fraser to Blanco who caught little ball with his first attempt at net. Midfielder Richie Williams, trying to block that shot with an outstretched right leg, went sliding by, and Keller dove to his left anticipating a blast. But the ball was still on Blanco’s foot and he drove a hard roller inside the unguarded left post.
"I would first like to congratulate Mexico on the victory," said U.S. coach Bruce Arena. "There were two champions on this field today. Now we will do our best to win on Tuesday (in the third-place game) and wish our CONCACAF neighbor well in the championship match."
Mexico will play the Brazil, an 8-2 winner over Saudi Arabia today, in Wednesday’s title match in Mexico City. The U.S. will face Saudi Arabia Tuesday at 10 p.m. (ET) in the consolation in Guadalajara.
Mexico controlled play throughout and outshot the Americans 17-7. Only three sensational saves by Keller kept the match close. In the ninth minute, Rafael Marquez, in penalty area, touched right to Claudio Suarez, whose point-blank shot was tipped over bar by Keller.
Three minutes later, Ramon Ramirez carried horizontally and fired a 20-yard shot destined for the top left corner had Keller not soared to tip it over the bar.
In the 48th minute, Keller saved the U.S. again. Quick passing sprang Mexico's Francisco Palencia deep in right side of penalty area. He pushed a pass back to Gerardo Torrado whose point-blank shot from seven yards is turned away by quick diving save by Keller.
Four minutes later came the Americans best chance of the match. Jovan Kirovski found fellow midfielder John Harkes at the left perimeter of box. He crossed to striker Ernie Stewart past far post, deep in the box. Stewart’s shot, however, was stopped by charging keeper Jorge Campos with two arms in front of face. Stewart wasted the ensuing corner kick.
In the 67th minute, the U.S. had another chance to score, with Cobi Jones' breaking free in the penalty area and hitting a 15-yarder that glanced off the top of the crossbar.
Mexico 1, United States 0Line-ups: Mexico: Jorge Campos, Claudio Suarez (captain), Rafael Marquez, Gerardo Torrado (Miguel Zepeda, 58), German Villa, Ramon Ramirez (Jesus Arellano, 72), Pavel Pardo, Isaac Terrazas (Francisco Palencia, 46), Salvador Carmona, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Jose Abundis; United States: Kasey Keller (captain), Jeff Agoos, Gregg Berhalter, Robin Fraser, Frankie Hejduk, Richie Williams, John Harkes, Ernie Stewart, Cobi Jones, Jovan Kirovski, Brian McBride (Eddie Lewis 78).
Shots: Mexico 17, United States 7. Saves: Mexico 3, United States 9. Corner kicks: Mexico 5, United States 4. Fouls: Mexico 14, United States 16. Offside: Mexico 6, United States 2. Yellow card caution: Mexico - Blanco 57; United States - Harkes 41, Fraser 60, Hejduk 82.
Referee: Young Joo Kim (Korea Republic). Assistant referees: Valdimir Bertiaga (Panama), Bomer Fierro (Ecuador). Attendance: 65,000 at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Weather: 75 degrees, partly cloudy.