Javier Hernandez scores, Mexico beats Guatemala

The Associated Press
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Mexico forward Aldo De Nigris celebrates after scoring a goal against Guatemala during the second half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament quarterfinal soccer game at the New Meadowlands Stadium, Saturday, June 18, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) — Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez's second half goal helped defending champion Mexico come from behind to beat Guatemala 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup on Saturday night.

Trailing 1-0 in the second half, substitute Aldo De Nigris equalized in the 48th minute before Manchester United star Chicharito's 66th minute goal gave undermanned Mexico a semifinal berth against Honduras on Wednesday night in Houston.

"Our team is very strong at the core," coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said after the match. "They know they should win versus any adversity. We knew it was a difficult match and a difficult opponent. The early goal was because the field was a little complicated and heavy but we knew that we would come back, and we did."

Guatemala, ranked 124th, didn't make things easy for No. 28 Mexico although El Tri had most of the scoring chances in the second half.

"This time it was different than the other games when we scored first," said Hernandez, who has six goals in the tournament. "We went in and worked hard in the second half to get chances.

Mexico currently only has 17 squad players because goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and defender Francisco Rodriguez, both starters on last year's World Cup team, and three others were removed from the team Thursday after testing positive for clenbuterol, a banned anabolic agent. Ricardo Osorio already had been sent home with an illness.

Guatemala started strongly and took a deserved lead in the fifth minute when Mexican defender Hector Moreno miscued his clearance from Elias Enoc Vasquez's long pass, allowing Ruiz to steal in and chip the ball over Talavera.

Mexico, which had outscored its opponents 14-1 in winning its three opening-round games, brought on De Nigris at half time and it paid instant dividends with the substitute directing home Moreno's shot from short range.

Pablo Barrera set up the game winner with a run down the right side, ending with a shot which Hernandez deflected past Jerez for his sixth goal of the tournament.

"The goal was instinct," Hernandez said. "I saw the ball at my feet and put the ball in the net."

Guatemala coach Ever Hugo Almeida was proud of his team, saying they had a couple of chances to take a 2-0 lead in the first half and could not convert.

"I think we have to be sincere, we're not at the same level as the national team of Mexico," Almeida said, adding his team is leaving with its heads high.

Honduras advanced in the first game of the doubleheader at the New Meadowlands Stadium that drew a sellout crowd of 78,807 with a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Costa Rica.