WASHINGTON, June 6 (Xinhua) — Christian Pulisic converted an extra-time penalty as the United States won the inaugural Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Nations League final by beating Mexico 3-2 on Sunday.
The Chelsea attacker sent a powerful spot-kick into the top-right corner after he was brought down by Carlos Salcedo in the 108th minute at the Empower field.
Mexico had the chance to force the match into a penalty shootout when Mark McKenzie was deemed to have handled the ball inside the box in the penultimate minute of extra time.
But backup U.S. goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who replaced Manchester City shot-stopper Zack Steffen when the latter was injured in the 69th minute, dived to his right to save Andres Guardado’s spot-kick.
“It’s a perfect way to end the season,” said Pulisic, who eight days earlier helped Chelsea beat Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League final. “I’m so proud of this group. We needed everyone today and it was a phenomenal performance.”
Porto winger Jesus Corona gave Mexico a dream start by intercepting an errant McKenzie pass in the opening minute and rifling an angled finish past Steffen.
The U.S. equalized through 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna, who fired in from close range after Weston McKennie’s header rebounded off the post.
Mexico regained the lead in the 79th minute when substitute Diego Lainez cut inside and lashed an unstoppable left-footed shot into the bottom right corner.
But Juventus midfielder McKennie drew the U.S. level again, meeting a Reyna corner with a back-post header nine minutes from time.
Officials stopped the match for around three minutes in second-half stoppage time because of discriminatory chants.
Originally scheduled to be completed in June last year, the first edition of the continental tournament was postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.