CONCACAF Gold Cup wrap: Five-star Mexico, El Salvador’s late anguish

Manchester United star Javier Hernandez increased his CONCACAF Gold Cup tally to five as Mexico thumped Cuba 5-0 on Thursday.Hernandez, who netted a hat-trick against El Salvador on the opening day of the tournament, scored in either half as the reigning champions romped to their second-straight 5-0 result.

Giovani Dos Santos weighed in with two goals of his own and substitute Aldo de Negris added another for the tournament favourites, who open up a two-point lead in Group A and are assured of a place in the quarter-finals.

Hours earlier, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) provisionally suspended six players for testing positive to a banned muscle-building substance.

The players, including goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and defender Francisco Rodriguez, are believed to have ingested the drug accidentally through tainted meat, according to Mexican officials.

If the scandal was affecting their team-mates, they certainly did not show it on the pitch. Or perhaps they did, by taking out their frustrations on hapless Cuba.

Hernandez was the first to strike, with his fine header from Andres Guardado’s cross on 36 minutes a mere glimpse of what was to come in the second half.

Dos Santos sparked a glut of three goals in five minutes as he finished off Pablo Barrera’s good work in the 63rd minute.

Hernandez then set up de Negris in the 65th minute, with the Monterrey striker scoring for the third straight game in the colours of Mexico.

Tottenham man Dos Santos completed his brace three minutes later, and Hernandez added another for good measure in the 76th minute.

Mexico need just a draw from Sunday’s match with Costa Rica to seal first place in Group A, while Cuba are bottom with two straight losses and will be playing for pride against El Salvador.

Earlier on Thursday, Costa Rica stole a 1-1 draw from heartbroken El Salvador following substitute Randall Brenes’ equaliser five minutes into added time.

Rodolfo Zelaya had put El Salvador into the lead with a fine free kick in the shadows of half-time, seemingly securing his side three points and leaving all to play for on Sunday.

But Brenes shot low past Salvadorian goalkeeper Miguel Montes just seconds from the whistle, snatching a point for Costa Rica and all but assuring their progress to the last eight.

Costa Rica are second in Group A with four points. El Savador have one point in third and need to defeat Cuba and see Costa Rica lose in a 10-goal turnaround in order to avoid elimination.