United States 1-0 Qatar: Late Zardes strike seals Gold Cup final berth

By Sports Desk July 29, 2021

Gyasi Zardes netted an 86th-minute winner to send the United States into their 13th Gold Cup final after a 1-0 semi-final triumph over Qatar in Austin on Thursday.

It could have been an entirely different story but Hassan Al Heidos missed a 61st-minute penalty for the Asian champions.

US head coach Gregg Berhalter brought on Zardes along with Nicolas Gioacchini in the second half to devastating effect, with the pair combining for the winner.

Gioacchini burst into the box and beat a man, before a side-foot pass which found Zardes to hammer home from close range.

US will play either Mexico or Canada in Sunday's final, as they chase their seventh Gold Cup title.

Qatar's Hashim Ali lashed a seventh-minute chance wide, before the US were denied by goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham's double save from Schalke talent Matthew Hoppe's effort and Paul Arriola's rebound.

US keeper Matt Turner produced a stunning finger-tip save to thwart Abdulaziz Hatem's 21st-minute volley.

Barsham was alert again in the 52nd minute, getting out quickly to deny Daryl Dike's low shot.

Qatar won a penalty on the hour mark after a VAR review on James Sands' tackle but Al Heidos skied his effort over the bar.

Berhalter brought on Zardes for Dike in the 63rd minute, along with Gioacchini for Hoppe in the 81st minute, reinvigorating the US attack and the pair made the decisive contribution late.

Related items

  • AFCON quarter-finals to be moved following Olembe Stadium tragedy, CAF calls for immediate investigation AFCON quarter-finals to be moved following Olembe Stadium tragedy, CAF calls for immediate investigation

    Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has called for an immediate investigation into an incident at Olembe Stadium that resulted in the deaths of eight people, while he confirmed upcoming Africa Cup of Nations matches would be relocated.

    Eight people died and a further 38 were injured after a stampede outside the stadium in Yaounde during Monday's match between tournament hosts Cameroon and Comoros.

    CAF has started an investigation, while FIFA offered its condolences in a briefing on Tuesday.

    In a media briefing, CAF president Motsepe confirmed the quarter-final tie due to be hosted at Olembe Stadium on Sunday, which will take place between the winner of Ivory Coast's clash with Egypt and the victor of Morocco v Malawi, would be moved to Yaounde's Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.

    "I've been given lots of feedback and had lots of discussions until very early this morning," Motsepe said on Tuesday.

    "The first thing that I’m going to ask the organising committees, the next match that's supposed to take place at the Olembe Stadium should not take place."

    Motsepe also confirmed CAF had requested a report on the incident be completed by Friday.

    "I spoke to the senior person in the government, and it's correct out of respect for our partners, to indicate that there must be an immediate committee set up to investigate what happened," he said.

    "In that context, to find out who was supposed to do what and who did not perform their responsibilities.

    "We want that report by Friday but as I said the game that is scheduled for Olembe Stadium on Sunday is not going to take place and it’s going to take place at Amadou. There will be other changes that will be made."

    One of those other changes is reportedly moving Sunday's other quarter-final from Douala to Limbe.

    A media release attributed to the Cameroon team was released on Tuesday, bearing the name of captain Vincent Aboubakar, was retweeted by the Cameroonian Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and appeared to question the behaviour of supporters in a statement that has received widespread criticism.

  • Cameroon tell fans to be 'responsible' after AFCON deaths Cameroon tell fans to be 'responsible' after AFCON deaths

    A statement attributed to the Cameroon national team has urged fans to remain "highly disciplined and responsible" after eight fans died in a stampede outside the Olembe Stadium during the match against Comoros.

    Reports began circulating of a disturbance outside the ground as hosts Cameroon claimed a 2-1 last-16 win in the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, with local media and the Associated Press suggesting at the time that several people had been killed.

    Cameroon's Ministry of Communications then confirmed overnight that, after a "first assessment", eight people had lost their lives in the crush.

    Another 38 people were injured, with seven of those in a serious condition.

    The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has started an investigation, while FIFA offered its condolences in a briefing on Tuesday.

    A media release attributed to the Cameroon team, bearing the name of captain Vincent Aboubakar, was retweeted by the Cameroonian Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and appeared to question the behaviour of supporters in a statement that has received widespread criticism.

    "The Indomitable Lions and their entire staff deeply wail about the tragic incident that occurred at the Olembe Stadium on Monday, January 24, during the Cameroon vs Comoros match," the statement read.

    "To the families of the victims, they extend their heart-felt condolences and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

    "The Indomitable Lions urge the football fans in Cameroon and Africa to be highly disciplined and responsible within and outside the stadiums so that football matches in general and the Africa Cup of Nations can remain festive moments.

    "They also call for the preservation of security, brotherhood and shared happiness in the stadiums. On behalf of the Indomitable Lions, Vincent Aboubakar."

    CAF has since announced the stadium will not be used for a quarter-final as initially planned following Monday's incident.

  • Fati will not undergo surgery on hamstring injury Fati will not undergo surgery on hamstring injury

    Barcelona have confirmed that Ansu Fati will not undergo surgery on the hamstring injury he sustained against Athletic Bilbao last week.

    Fati was substituted during Thursday's Copa del Rey defeat to Athletic Bilbao, with the club later confirming he had suffered another injury setback.

    Rather than send Fati for surgery, Barca will instead let the 19-year-old's tendon heal naturally by following "a conservative recovery plan".

    The Catalan giants announced the news on their Twitter account on Tuesday, but no timeframe for the winger's lay-off was given.

    According to reports from Spain, Barca are set to be without Fati for several weeks, rather than months.

    However, it still marks another blow for Fati, who appeared to be in tears as he left the pitch against Athletic, with this the latest in a series of problematic injuries.

    Fati has featured in just 10 games across all competitions this season, and he had only recently returned from a two-month absence due to a previous hamstring problem.

    He previously spent 10 months out due to a serious knee injury, only returning to action in September.

    Despite his limited action, Fati is Barcelona's second-highest scorer in 2021-22 with five goals, three fewer than Memphis Depay, who has played 13 more times.

    Fati's goals have come in just 456 minutes of on-pitch action, while he has out-performed his expected goals (xG) of 1.92, suggesting his finishing has been well above standard.

    Writing on his official Instagram account on Sunday, Fati vowed to keep on fighting on his road back from another spell on the sidelines.

    "Unfortunately, I am having to live through the worst part of football," he posted. "But I will never give up! Thank you very much for your messages of support and love!"

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.