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Matt Miazga’s goal helps USMNT win Gold Cup group

United States' Matt Miazga celebrates with Chris Pontius

United States' Matt Miazga celebrates with Chris Pontius after scoring a goal against Nicaragua during a CONCACAF Gold Cup match in Cleveland, Ohio, Saturday, July 15, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Ron Schwane

CLEVELAND — Matt Miazga scored on a closer-range header from Graham Zusi’s corner kick in the 88th minute, giving the United States first place in its CONCACAF Gold Cup group with a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua on Saturday night.

Panama’s 3-0 win over Martinique meant the U.S. needed a three-goal win to move back over Los Canaleros into first. Joe Corona scored his first international goal in four years in the 37th minute and Kelyn Rowe doubled the lead in the 56th with his first international goal, but the U.S. squandered opportunities when Dom Dwyer and Corona took poor penalty kicks in the second half that easily were saved by Justo Lorente.

The U.S. had a two-man advantage when Zusi took his free kick from about 30 yards because Luis Copete was ejected in the 86th minute for his second yellow card and Luis Galeano was receiving treatment for an injury.

Miazga, a Chelsea defender playing his first international match since May 2016, had an open header near a post and scored his first goal in three national team appearances.

The U.S. has won its group in 13 of 14 Gold Cups, finishing second to Panama in 2011. The Americans play their quarterfinal Wednesday in Philadelphia against a third-place team from another group, likely Honduras, El Salvador or Jamaica; a second-place finish would have meant a U.S.-Costa Rica matchup.

New York Sports