The MoneyGram Nations Cup was held at FC Dallas Stadium last weekend. Here’s a recap of all the action from the knockout rounds:
In the quarterfinals, Senegal defeated Iran, 2-1, Albania shut out Ivory Coast, 3-0, Cameroon cruised past the Mexico 2 side, 4-1, and Mexico 1 beat USA, 2-0.
In the semifinals, Albania took on Senegal while Mexico 1 played Cameroon. The Albania-Senegal game was played at a slower pace than the other match up, making the battle in the midfield important. Albania’s goal was scored from a set-piece and Albania’s goalkeeper held firm as Senegal tried to equalize in the end, securing an Albania win.
The second semifinal game was a clash of two different styles. Cameroon was very athletic with speed and a lot of technical skill. Mexico had the counter attack ready to go. Mexico went up 1-0 early but Cameroon attacked and took a 2-1 lead before halftime. Mexico scored early again in the second half to make it 2-2. Late in the match, Mexico countered and scored on a good through ball from Tito Salas. It put the pressure on Cameroon to score, but Mexico got another goal late as Cameroon gave them space in the back. Cameroon was awarded a penalty kick late but the Mexico goalkeeper made a diving save to his left and pushed the ball off the crossbar as the whistle blew, signaling a 4-2 victory for Mexico.
The championship match between Mexico and Albania was a matchup of two highly skilled teams. Short, quick passing was on display as both teams had a lot of possession. The winning goal was scored by RJ Luevano on a free kick from 25 yards out in the first half to give Albania the 1-0 lead. Mexico had several scoring opportunities, but the Albania 'keeper saved every one, earning him man of the match honors as his team won the 2013 MoneyGram Nations Cup title.