Wolves striker Raúl Jiménez scored as Mexico beat Costa Rica 5-4 on penalties in Houston, Texas to reach the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals.
The 28-year-old, who is due to be confirmed as the club’s £32m record signing today, put Mexico ahead in the 44th minute with a shot on the turn from inside the box for his fifth goal of the tournament. Bryan Ruiz equalised for Costa Rica in the 52nd minute with a penalty after he was fouled by Luis Rodríguez and the game ended 1-1.
That meant the tie went to penalties, where Jiménez, who played as the central forward in a 4-3-3 formation, was denied by goalkeeper Leonel Moreira from Mexico’s first spot kick, while Randall Leal sent Costa Rica’s third kick wide. Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa denied Keysher Fuller from Costa Rica’s final effort, sending Mexico to their seventh consecutive semi-final. They will now play Haiti in the early hours of Wednesday morning (3am, BST) at Glendale, Arizona.
Luis Montes, Roberto Alvarado, Jesús Gallardo, Héctor Moreno and Carlos Salcedo netted in the shootout for the Mexicans, and Celso Borges, Elías Aguilar, Óscar Duarte and Francisco Calvo for Costa Rica.
Jimenez forced Moreira into a fine save in the 57th minute with a shot as Mexico pressed for the winner, but it wasn’t to be.
Mexico coach Gerardo Martino felt his side should have wrapped the game up in normal time.
“The penalties definitely rewarded the one who should have won the match,” said Martino. “I said it would be a final ahead of time, we didn’t expect to face Costa Rica. Costa Rica is an excellent team, but the reality is we should have won the game.
“Today was a challenge. First, because we met Costa Rica sooner and because it was the first game where we had to rectify the way we played at the risk of returning to Mexico.”
Haiti beat Canada 3-2 in their quarter-final after overturning a two-goal deficit.
Should Mexico reach the final on Monday, July 8 (2am BST), there are only 11 days before Wolves’ first pre-season friendly, in the Premier League Asia Trophy against Newcastle in China on July 17. There will be 34 days from the final to Wolves’ first Premier League fixture at Leicester.
Afterwards, Jimenez tweeted: “We are in the semis to continue on this path. #vamosmexico #passion and pride.”