US upsets Mexico in Finals

The United States are the champions of the first ever CONCACAF Nations League after a thrilling 3-2 extra-time victory over rivals Mexico in the Final of the 2021 CNL Finals.

Christian Pulisic scored a goal in the extra period and substitute GK Ethan Horvath saved a penalty to seal the triumph for the U.S.

It was a dream start for Mexico, as a giveaway deep in the U.S. half allowed Jesus Corona to swoop in and score for a 1-0 lead just 70 seconds gone in the game.

The U.S. would respond in the 27’ though, as a Weston McKennie header off a corner kick hit the post and it fell right to the feet of Gio Reyna, who fired in from a few yards out to make it 1-1.

Mexico sought to regain control and Hirving Lozano looked set to tally his team’s second of the night in the 43’, but he was denied on a spectacular save from U.S. GK Zack Steffen.

The teams would trade chances as play continued into the second half, with Mexico coming close on a Carlos Rodriguez shot that flashed wide in the 57’ and Josh Sargent of the U.S. narrowly missing in the 62’, followed by Mexico GK Guillermo Ochoa denying McKennie’s header on the goal-line in the 69’.

Things stood on a knife’s edge going into the final quarter-hour and they would tilt Mexico’s way in the 79’ as substitute Diego Lainez, just minutes on the field, fired in a left-footed shot to hand Mexico a 2-1 lead.

But once again there was a response from the U.S. and a soaring header from McKennie brought the U.S. back on level terms 2-2 in the 82’.

Back and forth the teams went and Horvath, who had replaced the injured Steffen, came up with a massive stop on a Lozano effort.

The full-time whistle sounded, meaning 30 minutes of extra time, and for the first time of the night the U.S. took the lead, 3-2, when Pulisic converted a penalty in the 114’ after being fouled in the Mexico area.

It was up to Mexico to respond and they would get a chance in the 120+4’ when a penalty was called for a U.S. handball in the area, but Horvath would come up with the big stop on Andres Guardado’s penalty kick to keep the U.S. ahead until the final whistle.