Guillermo Ochoa saved a sudden death penalty from Keysher Fuller as Mexico overcame Costa Rica 5-4 on penalties on Saturday to advance to the Gold Cup semifinals, after the score finished 1-1 after extra time in front of 70,788 fans at Houston's NRG Stadium.
Raul Jimenez had handed Mexico the lead in the 44th minute, with Bryan Ruiz leveling from the penalty spot in the 52nd, after a debatable penalty call on Joel Campbell. Costa Rica goalkeeper Leonel Moreira saved Jimenez's first penalty in the shoot-out, but Randall Leal hit Los Ticos' third penalty wide, with Ochoa saving from Fuller to send Mexico through.
Mexico will now face Haiti on Tuesday in Glendale, Arizona, in the semifinal of the competition.
Costa Rica coach Gustavo Matosas had promised to go "blow for blow" for Mexico and while his squad weren't gung ho, they caused Mexico far more problems than in any game in 2019 so far.
In a game punctuated by persistent fouling -- there were 12 yellow cards including one for each coach -- Costa Rica went closest early on when Celso Borges curled a free-kick just past Guillermo Ochoa's post in the 31st.
Jimenez's quality made the difference with a classy finish in the 41st to put Mexico in front.
The Wolves striker received the ball from a low Rodolfo Pizarro cross, turned and fired a shot into the bottom corner, following a period of play that saw each team open up and push players into attack.
Costa Rica hit back when Joel Campbell was adjudged to have been brought down by Luis Rodriguez inside the area in the 50th, although TV replays suggested the offense may have been outside the penalty box.
Ruiz slotted in the resulting penalty to level the scores.
As the game wore on, Mexico pinned Costa Rica back and controlled possession more, forcing Los Ticos back and relying on more direct balls on the counter.
Substitute Carlos Rodriguez went closest to winning the game within the 90 minutes, when he hit the crossbar in the 87th from close range, after Jonathan dos Santos pulled back a cross from the byline.
Rodriguez had two chances in extra time, although Mexico had to rely on a stretching by Ochoa from a Jonathan McDonald shot in the 108th minute to keep Los Ticos out.
Mexico manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino will be suspended from the bench for the semi against Haiti due to him picking up his second yellow card of the tournament.