Haiti defeat Nicaragua to advance to WCQ Round 2

Published on 08 June 2021

Photo: The Haiti men’s national team pose for a photo in their dressing room to celebrate their qualification to round 2 of the Concacaf Qualifiers to the 2022 FIFAWorld Cup in Qatar.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (June 8, 2021)—Derrick Etienne’s 63rd minute strike when Les Grenadiers met Nicaragua for the final Group E Round one World Cup Qualifier match sent Haiti into the second round of World Cup Qualifiers. The Haitians advance boasting a perfect record of zero goals conceded and three wins from as many games.

When Referee Kevin Morrison blew his whistle to let the encounter begin on Wednesday, Nicaragua burst out with surging attacks on the Haitian team, but goalkeeper Jonny Placide seemed determined to hang on to the coveted clean sheet.

Early out, Richard Rodríguez saw his low, curled left-footed free-kick go inches wide of the post in the 13th minute. Three minutes later Francisco Flores whipped a delicious looking ball onto the head of the forward running Juan Barrera at the far post, but he couldn’t steer it home.

Haiti were forced to play counter-attacking football after being pushed back by a Nicaraguan team that knew it was a win or nothing at this stage.

Jeppe Simonsen found himself unmarked in the opponent’s box and fired a shot towards goal, but Denis Espinosa was equal to the task and saved comfortably.

The game soon became physical with the stakes as high as they were.

Espinosa kept his team in the game with a string of saves to see the teams going into the half level and with it still being either side’s game to take.

Mother Nature joined the action at the resumption, with a deluge and thunder echoing in the empty Stade Sylvio Cator.

What would have been a chance for Nicaragua quickly turned it a counterattack for Haiti, with players rushing forward with the defense in retreat, all finished by the man of the hour. It was perhaps fortuitous, since Etienne’s number went up to be substituted but was pulled back by coach Jean-Jacque Pierre.

The goal by the Columbus Crew sent Haiti to the next round. It was also the first goal conceded by Nicaragua and, unfortunately for them, the goal that would send them home. Haiti topped Group E ahead of Nicaragua, Belize and Turks and Caicos.

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