Elias Hernandez leads Mexico past El Salvador 3-1
Mexico's Elias Hernandez celebrates after scoring a goal against El Salvador during a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match in San Diego, Sunday, July 9, 2017. Mexico won the match 3-1. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)SAN DIEGO (AP) — Elias Hernandez scored and had two assists to help Mexico beat El Salvador 3-1 on Sunday night in a CONCACAF Gold Cup opener.
Hedgardo Marin scored his first goal for the Mexican national team, and Orbelin Pineda also scored. Jesus Gallardo contributed to two goals in front of the pro-Mexico crowd of 53,133.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, serving the first game of a six-game sideline suspension for berating an official, watched from a stadium suite.
Mexico will face Jamaica, a 2-0 winner over Curacao, in a Group C match Thursday in Denver.
All three of Mexico's goal came off lengthy right-to-left passes.
Mexico opened the scoring eight minutes into the game on defender Marin's header off Hernandez's free kick. Gallardo, playing right wing, created the free-kick chance that the leaping, 6-foot Marin put away into the upper-left corner.
El Salvador countered two minutes minute later, scoring on a deft one-touch pass and one-touch shot, Rodolfo Zelaya to Nelson Bonilla. Bonilla's far-post grounder got past Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona.
Corona later got away with an errant rollout in the middle of the field, El Salvador's shot going over the crossbar.
Mexico created another clean look at the 29th minute.
This time, the 22-year-old Gallardo looped a pass to a waiting Hernandez, whose full-volley drive made it 2-1.
Hernandez, a 29-year-old who joined the national team in 2010, created the third goal with a crossing pass. His initial target at the near post was unable to connect. But the roller got past El Salvador's goalkeeper, and Orbelin Pineda put it away for a 3-1 lead in the 55th minute.
Pineda celebrated with two somersaults.
Osario was an active presence, moving around a third-level box and taking notes.
"The hardest part is that I can't be on the bench, helping our team win," Osorio said. "I think that's probably the worst situation for every manager."