California, June 16: Uriel Antuna scored a hat-trick as Mexico thrashed Cuba 7-0 in their CONCACAF Gold Cup opener in California on Saturday (June 15).
Antuna stole the show with his treble, which went with a Raul Jimenez brace and goals from Diego Reyes and Alexis Vega in what was a one-sided encounter at the Rose Bowl.
Gerardo Martino's men struck four times in the first half, marking their fifth win in as many games since he took over in January.
Cuba were outclassed by a Mexico side who showed why they are once again among the favourites for the title.
Mexico dominated from the outset and needed just two minutes to open the scoring through Antuna, who was a late addition to the Mexico squad as an injury replacement.
Jimenez hit the post after a cross from the left and Antuna was on hand to scramble in his first international goal.
Mexico's second just after the half-hour mark through Jimenez had been coming as the forward caused Cuba plenty of problems.
Andres Guardado chipped a pass through a poor Cuba defence, Jimenez producing a composed finish into the bottom corner.
Mexico struck twice more before half-time through Reyes and Antuna.
Jimenez side-footed a corner that drew a save from Cuba goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez, but the rebound fell straight to Reyes to tap in. Antuna completed his brace just prior to the break as Jimenez's cross was blocked by a last-ditch clearance, the LA Galaxy forward – who is on loan from Manchester City – on hand to rifle into the roof of the net from close range.
Mexico's intensity dropped slightly to begin the second half, but Jimenez struck again, firing through Sanchez's legs after a pass from Carlos Rodriguez.
Vega came off the bench to net his first at international level, tapping in after Antuna unselfishly crossed for him to score the easiest of goals in the 74th minute.
In just his third international, Antuna completed his hat-trick, putting away a rebound after Sanchez did well to keep out a Rodriguez effort.
What does it mean? Mexico flex muscle
This was meant to be a one-sided affair and Mexico ensured it was with a blistering first half. Mexico are seven-time Gold Cup champions and they deserve to be favourites for number eight.
Jimenez provides major impact
Jimenez, who starred on loan at Wolves from Benfica last season before the deal became permanent, impressed. As well as scoring his 18th and 19th international goals, the forward was involved in three other goals.
Martino proven right so far
Martino said in the lead up he would prefer Mexico to play at the Copa America over the CONCACAF Gold Cup. With wins over Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador this year, Mexico were never going to be threatened by Cuba and it remains to be seen how much they will be tested throughout the tournament.
Mexico's campaign continues against Canada on Wednesday (June 19), while Cuba face Martinique on the same day.