Mexico were held to a 0-0 draw by a stubborn Guatemala to move a step closer to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-finals.
Miguel Herrera’s men were left frustrated at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona as they failed to break down less-fancied Guatemala.
Mexico – six-time Gold Cup champions – had thrashed Cuba 6-0 in their Group C opener and had most of the ball against Guatemala, but lacked a cutting edge against a side that finished with 10 men, following Jose Manuel Contreras’ red card.
Mexican substitute Carlos Esquivel went closest to a breakthrough when he hit the crossbar late on.
The draw takes Mexico to four points, second to Trinidad and Tobago (six), but ahead of Guatemala (one) and point-less Cuba in the group.
Mexico made a good start, dominating possession and keeping the ball well – albeit without seriously threatening, and it would become a developing theme.
But Guatemala threatened on the counter-attack and they perhaps should have gone ahead in the eighth minute.
They appeared to have ruined their chance on the break before Carlos Ruiz chipped a pass to Minor Lopez, whose lob went agonisingly wide.
Jonathan dos Santos fired an effort on goal for Mexico in the 17th minute but it caused Guatemala goalkeeper Paulo Motta no problems.
It was just after the half-hour mark that Miguel Herrera’s side should have taken a 1-0 lead.
Andres Guardado was picked out at the back post, and he struck well – only to see Motta somehow keep the shot out with his feet.
There was plenty of feeling between the teams throughout the first half, with Guatemalans Ruben Morales and Jorge Aparicio and Mexico’s Paul Aguilar picking up yellow cards.
Carlos Vela, who barely had a chance throughout, tried his luck from distance in the 62nd minute – but his effort was high and wide.
Hector Herrera failed to get enough on a cross in the 75th minute for Mexico before Contreras was sent off.
The midfielder had been booked just three minutes before a late challenge, which he tried to pull out of, saw him given his marching orders.
Esquivel blasted an effort against the crossbar from 25 yards in the dying stages, summing up Mexico’s outing.
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