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USA top Nicaragua 3-0 in Gold Cup

Americans win group despite two missed penalties

Soccer: 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup-Nicaragua at USA David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It took more work than was necessary, but the U.S. Men’s National Team beat Nicaragua 3-0 in their final Gold Cup group stage matchup Saturday night in Cleveland.

Needing a three goal advantage to avoid a quarterfinal matchup vs. Costa Rica, the U.S. struggled at first to create chances but grew into the match. And when Joe Corona did well to evade several defenders in the box before his low shot deflected past Justo Lorente into the corner, the American were in business.

Unfortunately, Dom Dwyer began the second half by missing a penalty kick after he was tossed to the turf inside the box. The U.S. doubled their advantage in the 56th minute when the excellent Alejandro Bedoya located Kelyn Rowe’s run from the left side of the area, and the New England Revolution attacker set himself up with a single touch before beating Lorente with a clever finish.

With the Americans just needing one more goal, the almost impossible happened. Joe Corona managed to miss another penalty to put the Yanks’ chances of winning the group in serious doubt.

However, Graham Zusi’s perfect set-piece delivery found Matt Miagza at the back post, and the Chelsea center back nodded home from close range to give the U.S. the advantage they needed.