Howard Hero as Ten-Man USA Defend Cup

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Tim Howard saved Néstor Araujo’s sudden-death penalty to successfully defend the CONCACAF Gold Cup after a thrilling two hours of football between USA and Mexico in New Orleans which finished 1-1 after extra-time.

It was the sixth meeting between the two nations in the history of the thirteen Finals, with Mexico going into the game with four wins to the States’ one, but it was the hosts who won back-to-back Gold Cups for the second time in their history.

Jozy Altidore put USA in front in the 27th minute when he powered a header home from a fine Tim Chandler cross, and Chandler was involved on the stroke of half-time when he deflected Jesús Zavala’s shot off the line and over his own bar when the Newcastle midfielder had rounded Howard and looked certain to equalise.

That equaliser came with eighteen minutes to play as Javíer Hernández scored his sixth of the tournament when he was played in by Giovani dos Santos, beat Howard to the ball and slotted home.

Five minutes later it looked like things had gone from bad to worse for USA as Ángel Reyna was put through by Hernández, only to be tripped two yards outside the box by last-defender Édgar Castillo who was dismissed by the referee. Mexico couldn’t make the advantage as the game went to penalties after a dull extra-time.

Brek Shea, dos Santos, and Bradley Johnson all scored before Howard pushed Hernández’s spot-kick around the post, but Joshua Gatt couldn’t capitalise and had his weak effort saved by Guillermo Ochoa.

David Cabrera, Altidore, Zavala, Michael Orozoco Fiscal, and Néstor Vidrio then all found the back of the net and it was tied at 4-4 after five penalties apiece.

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Clint Dempsey stepped-up and found the top corner to put all the pressure on Arajuo to keep Mexico in it. He went to Howard’s left with a powerful spot-kick, but the Everton ‘keeper went the same way and pushed his penalty on to the post and out to win the States their sixth Gold Cup.

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