In a thrilling night match, Yohance Marshall scored in the final seconds of injury time as Trinidad and Tobago rallied from a pair of second-half deficits to earn a 4-4 draw with Mexico in one of the wildest matches in tournament history.
Trinidad and Tobago had to come from behind twice in a furious second half Wednesday. They trailed 2-0 early in the half but then scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead in the 67th minute.
Mexico then scored two goals just two minutes apart to regain a one-goal lead heading into three minutes of injury time. That helped set the stage for Marshall`s heroics on the last play of the game. View Hart's Post Match Comments
The sequence started with Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Joevin Jones taking a corner kick.
Despite being pelted with water bottles thrown by Mexican fans, he got the kick off and it eventually ended up in the middle of the penalty area where Marshall was able to get his head on it.
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"This was bitter sweet. But we had the fighting spirit to come back in the end," said Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones.
Marshall`s equalizer gave Trinidad and Tobago first place in Group C with seven points. They advance to play Panama on Sunday in New Jersey.
The four goals was the most Mexico had ever given up in a Gold Cup game and it was also the highest scoring tie in tournament history.
Mexico finished second and will face Group B runner-up Costa Rica on Sunday.
Within a span of only four days, soccer fans in America were entertained by four teams playing two incredible matches in two completely different competitions.
Both games ended in 4-4 draws – now, what were the odds of that? -- but the real winner was the game of soccer.
On Sunday, New York City FC and Toronto FC battled to a 4-4 deadlock in a masterful Major League Soccer duel that included four penalty kicks alone in the first half. Both sides played attacking soccer and entertained the Yankee Stadium faithful and whoever watched on TV.
Need I say anything more?
On Wednesday, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago went at it for the Group C crown at the CONCACAF Gold Cup as though they were playing in the final. Both sides left it on the field and more importantly, in the net in a game for the ages.
There was so much to digest. The Mexicans, who entered the competition as one of the favorites, found themselves in second place behind the surprising Soca Warriors coming into the match. They needed a victory to take the group, Trinidad needed only a draw.
In front of a packed stadium and enthusiastic fans – mostly Mexican -- in Charlotte, N.C. – the teams put on a show and a half with plenty of lead changes and momentum shifts.
El Tri got off to a great start, grabbing a two-goal advantage.
Then T&T battled back with three unanswered goals to grab a 3-2 edge.
Then it was Mexico's turn for yet another comeback, striking twice, which included a stoppage-time own goal by Trinidad's Kenwyne Jones.
It looked like the end for the Soca Warriors, but Yohance Marshall tallied deep into injury time for a stunning 4-4 deadlock. T&T won the title.
At first I tweeted out it was the best group stage match I had ever seen in the Gold Cup. I would like to think I have a right to say that. I have been covering the competition since 1998.
In fact, after thinking about that statement for several minutes, I changed my mind. It was the greatest Gold Cup game ever.
That included some great performances and matches, including goalkeeper Kasey Keller standing on his head to deny Brazil in the 1998 semifinals, Panama's 2-1 upset of the USA in 2011, Guadeloupe's incredible march to the semifinals in 2007 and Cuba's stoppage-time win that boosted the Caribbean side into the 2013 quarterfinals, among other memorable matches.
BTW, in case you're interested, here is a list of 10 memorable Gold Cup matches in the previous 12 editions of the competition:
Hopefully, the 2015 knockout round will have some of the excitement that we witnessed on Wednesday night.
Of course, the Soca Warriors and El Tri might have spoiled us.
Just how do you top that incredible tussle? (MICHAEL LEWIS, BIGAPPLESOCCER.COM)
THRILLING 4-4 DRAW
Two goals in stoppage time led to a 4-4 draw between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday night in their final group match at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Tied 3-3 through regulation, Mexico pulled ahead on an own goal by Kenwyne Jones in the first minute of extra play. With less than a minute left, Trinidad and Tobago's Yohance Marshall headed in a corner kick to tie the match.
"We had a plan for the corner kicks, but I picked up the flight of the ball late," said Marshall, who did not play in the first two Gold Cup games. "But I wound up in the right place. We got a good result.
"I've never gone through a final five minutes like that with the national team; with my club teams and school teams, yes. The emotions are high — they go up, they go down. You can be disappointed, but at the end, we were elated. We could have lost, but we could have easily won also."
Trinidad and Tobago (2-0-1, 7 points) took Group C's top seed into the quarterfinals, and will face Panama on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.
"It was a good game for spectators — not my heart," said Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart, whose team is making its best Gold Cup run since reaching the semifinals in 2000.
"We had an objective to get to the quarterfinals. We wanted to win the first game and get the result from Cuba (a 2-0 win on July 12), and not have to play Mexico to get to the quarterfinals."
Mexico (1-0-2, 5 points) will play Costa Rica in the second quarterfinal game Sunday.
"We didn't do what we were doing before, especially in the second half," Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said through an interpreter. "There were a lot of mistakes. We committed a lot of mistakes in the second half."
Mexico, which has won six Gold Cup titles, took a 1-0 halftime lead on Paul Aguilar's goal in the 32nd minute, and pulled ahead 2-0 on Carlos Vega's shot off the left post in the 51st minute.
"We didn't manage the game well . but we were doing it in the first half," Herrera said. "After the second goal, we stopped playing. We made careless mistakes."
Trinidad and Tobago's Keron Cummings and Kenwyne Jones scored in a 3-minute span to tie the match in the 58th minute. Cummings' second goal, in the 67th minute, put Trinidad and Tobago ahead 3-2.
"The players, we believe in one another," said Cummings, who was making his first start in the Gold Cup. "We knew we can come back. Once we dug deep, we came back."
Mexico made it 3-3 on Andres Guardado's 25-yarder in the 88th minute.
"The last goal, it was a ball in the corner," Herrera said. "If you just take the ball to the corner, the clock probably runs out. But it was a little bit of bad luck because the ball could have gone anywhere."