Elias Hernandez leads Mexico to 3-1 win over El Salvador
SAN DIEGO (AP) Elias Hernandez had a goal and two assists to help Mexico beat El Salvador 3-1 Sunday night in a CONCACAF Gold Cup opener.
Hedgardo Marin scored his first goal for the Mexico national team, Orbelin Pineda also scored and Jesus Gallardo also had two assists.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, serving the first game of a six-game suspension for berating an official, watched from a stadium suite.
Nelson Bonilla scored for El Salvador.
Mexico will face Jamaica, a 2-0 winner over Curacao, in a Group C match Thursday in Denver.
All three of Mexico's goal came off lengthy right-to-left passes.
Mexico claimed a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the game on defender Marin's header off Hernandez's pinpointed free kick. Gallardo, playing right wing, created the chance that the leaping, 6-foot Marin put away into the upper-left corner.
El Salvador countered two minutes minute later, scoring on a deft one-touch pass and one-touch shot, Rodolfo Zelaya to Bonilla. Bonilla's far-post grounder got past Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona.
Corona later got away with an errant rollout in the middle of the field, El Salvador's shot going over the crossbar.
Mexico, which had a wobbly first half on defense, created another clean look at the 29th minute.
This time, the 22-year-old Gallardo looped a pass to a waiting Hernandez, whose full-volley drive made it 2-1.
Hernandez, a 29-year-old who joined the national team in 2010, created the third goal with a crossing pass. His initial target at the near post was unable to connect. But the roller got past El Salvador's goalie and Pineda put it away for a 3-1 lead in the 55th minute.
Pineda celebrated with two somersaults.
Osario was an active presence, moving around a third-level box and taking notes.
The crowd, announced at 53,133, was decidedly pro-Mexico.