US ba le into Gold Cup semi-fi­nals

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Sport -

THE United States over­came a bat­tling dis­play from El Sal­vador to ad­vance to a CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-fi­nal show­down with Costa Rica here Wed­nes­day.

First-half goals from de­fend­ers Omar Gon­za­lez and Eric Lichaj se­cured a hard-fought quar­ter-fi­nal win for the hosts, who are chas­ing their first Gold Cup ti­tle since 2013.

How­ever Bruce Arena’s side were made to work all the way by El Sal­vador, and only some su­perb saves from Tim Howard kept the Cen­tral Amer­i­can side at bay at Philadel­phia’s Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field.

“They pressed us well and we weren’t good enough with the ball to break their press,” Howard said af­ter­wards. “We got the two goals be­fore half-time and that was ob­vi­ously good for us. But we knew they were go­ing to cause us prob­lems.

“It’s good to get the win. We can work on a few things, but that’s what this tour­na­ment’s about.”

An un­con­vinc­ing start saw the hosts given a let-off early on when Lichaj un­der-hit a back pass to Howard.

Rodolfo Ze­laya latched onto the loose ball and darted clear only to be de­nied by a des­per­ate late block from Howard, who had spot­ted the dan­ger and ad­vanced swiftly to snuff out the chance.

The re­main­der of the first half was dom­i­nated by a se­ries of nig­gly fouls as El Sal­vador frus­trated Amer­i­can ef­forts to im­pose them­selves on the con­test.

The Amer­i­cans were un­lucky to be de­nied an open­ing goal mid­way through the half when Clint Dempsey re­leased Gyasi Zardes who lifted his fin­ish above Derby Car­rillo, only to be flagged for off­side.

Re­plays later showed the Los An­ge­les Gal­axy for­ward was on­side.

As tem­pers flared Lichaj was lucky to es­cape a cau­tion when he flat­tened Den­nis Pineda near the half­way line.

Four min­utes be­fore half­time how­ever, the US broke the dead­lock when Gon­za­lez leaped to glance in Michael Bradley’s teas­ing free-kick to make it 1-0.

Deep into first half stop­page time, Lichaj made it 2-0 with a goal that owed every­thing to the guile of Bradley.

The vet­eran striker left Henry Romero for dead with a bril­liant turn and then slipped a pass into the feet of Lichaj, who con­trolled to shoot be­neath Car­rillo for his maiden in­ter­na­tional goal.

The Amer­i­cans now face 2014 World Cup quar­ter-fi­nal­ists Costa Rica in to­mor­row’s semi-fi­nals.

The match rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity for the US to avenge their hu­mil­i­at­ing 4-0 loss to Costa Rica dur­ing 2018 World Cup qual­i­fiers last year.

Howard how­ever in­sisted score­set­tling would not be on the agenda.

“It’s not about what hap­pened in the past,” he said. “It’s about win­ning on Satur­day night and get­ting to a fi­nal.”

Los Ti­cos ad­vanced to the last four af­ter Panama de­fender Ani­bal Godoy headed ag­o­niz­ingly into his own net to give Costa Rica a 1-0 vic­tory in Wed­nes­day’s ear­lier quar­ter­fi­nal.

The Cen­tral Amer­i­can ri­vals were dead­locked in the sec­ond half when Costa Rica’s David Guz­man swung a long free kick to­ward the Pana­ma­nian goal.

Panama’s Godoy leapt to try to head the ball away but in­stead it spun back into the Pana­ma­nian net in the 77th minute.

Ani­bal Godoy (left) of Panama and Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica fight for the ball dur­ing their CONCACAF Gold Cup quar­ter-fi­nal match on Wed­nes­day in Philadel­phia. Photo: AFP

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