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  • Isa Almeida

Powerhouses and Upsets: W Gold Cup Group Stage Recap

From a Mexico upset over hosts United States to a last-minute qualification penalty to Paraguay, the inaugural Women’s Gold Cup Group Stage had it all.

Check out what happened in the first stage before the quarter-finals start on March 2.

Group A

While Mexico didn’t have a promising start to the tournament, with a missed penalty against Argentina and ultimately drawing with the Albiceleste, they had a strong comeback in the following two rounds and came out on top of Group A. Against the Dominican Republic, the Mexicans scored eight goals. 

The group-winning victory came in the last round against the United States.

Lizbeth Ovalle opened the scoreboard in the 38th minute to put her team in front, and Mayra Pelayo-Bernal sealed the win in the 92nd minute. This was Mexico’s second-ever win against the United States. The hosts were upset by their southern neighbors after easily going past the Dominican Republic and Argentina with 5-0 and 4-0 wins. 

Mexico topped the group, with the Americans taking the second-place spot. Argentina qualified for the knockout stage by overscoring its fellow third-placed teams. The Albiceleste tied with Mexico in the first round and beat the Dominicans 3-0 to wrap up the group stage with four points. 

“I’m proud of my players,” Mexico head coach Pedro López Ramos said. “(The team) came out with boldness and courage with the dream of playing a great game against a powerhouse like the United States. I think (the match) has dignified this Gold Cup for all the spectators and fans."

Group B

Two South American powerhouses unsurprisingly led Group B.

Colombia, one of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup big surprises, started strong with a 6-0 victory over Panama but fell to Brazil 1-0. Though Brazil came out victorious in its first two games, both had the same narrow 1-0 score with Gabi Nunes as the goalscorer both times. 

The Brazilians against Puerto Rico in the first round struggled to find the back of the next for 81 minutes when Nunes finally got a goal. 

“The Brazilian national team is going through a reconstruction period,” Brazil head coach Arthur Elias said. “The Brazilian national team hasn’t come from positive results for many years in the important competitions besides Copa América. Where we want to get with the national team is a lot more important to focus on building (a strong team) than listening to what comes from other people.”

Puerto Rico showed strength as a team and made life hard for the South Americans, as well as getting a comeback 2-1 win over Panama, which included a 93rd-minute goal by Danielle Marcano. Unfortunately for the Boricuas, its efforts led them to a third-place classification that equaled Group C’s Costa Rica, and the advancing team was selected through a random draw. 

“I told the team (to) take one game, one day at a time,” Puerto Rico head coach Nathaniel Gonzalez said. “We all hope and strive to win every game. (We) beat a team like Panama, who is good, I don’t think the scoreline in their previous game (against Colombia) was fair, their second half was much better and that was the team I was expecting, and they came out very strong and caused us a problem. Not quite what the team expected.”

Costa Rica won the draw, leaving Puerto Rico out of the knockout stages. 

Group C

The reigning Olympic gold medalist Canada had no issues dominating Group C. Starting with a 6-0 win over El Salvador, the Canadian defense did not concede a single goal in the group stage.

Paraguay and Costa Rica both went into the last round with a possibility of advancing to the knockout stage as runners-up, but Costa Rica failed to get past Canada. Paraguay on the other hand had El Salvador as their final group stage challenge – and it wasn’t easy.

Jessica Martinez opened the scoreboard for the South Americans with a penalty, and the team managed to maintain the lead until the 68th minute when Samantha Fischer scored for El Salvador. With Costa Rica’s loss earlier, a draw would be enough for them to go through solely based on points, but in the 83rd minute, Danielle Fuentes put the Salvadoreñas ahead. 

Martinez came through for Paraguay with another successful penalty in the 86th minute and at the 91st-minute mark, the game-winning goal. Martinez was the only player to have a hat-trick in this stage. 

“I think from the beginning of this tournament we knew El Salvador was gonna be very hard,” Paraguay head coach Carlos Bona said. “We respect El Salvador so much that in the game against Canada, we rested some players for this game. I think in terms of football we have four factors that can influence (a game): the technical, the physical, the tactical and the emotional aspect.”

After winning a draw with Puerto Rico, Costa Rica advanced to the knockout rounds.

The quarterfinals match-ups are as follows:

Canada vs. Costa Rica at 7 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 2, 2024

Brazil vs. Argentina at 10:15 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 2, 2024

Mexico vs. Paraguay at 5:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 3, 2024

United States vs. Colombia at 8:15 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 3, 2024

All games can be streamed on Paramount+ in the United States.


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