Mexico leads WCQ standing after a draw; Canada and USA record wins
Published on 09 September 2021
Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Panama City, Panama – September 8, 2021 Panama’s Edgar Barcenas in action. (Photo: REUTERS/Erick Marciscano)
Panama City, Panama (September 8, 2021) —Panama and Mexico played to a one-all draw when the teams met in Panama in final round World Cup Qualification on Wednesday night. The stalemate sent Mexico to the top of the standing with seven points. Panama, with five points, like Canada and the USA, are fourth.
Panama’s Alberto Quintero signaled his team’s intent within the first three minutes of play, but the Mexican keeper, Guillermo Ochoa, was up to the task.
Mexico came back with a chance of their own in the 21st minute when Jesus Carona let one fly from deep. However, Panama’s goalkeeper Luis Mejia tipped the ball over the crossbar.
Panama got on the scorecard in the 28th minute when Michael Murillo flashed down the right, whipped on a cross along the face of the goal and forced a save from Ochoa. But the keeper’s diving save landed for Rolando Blackburn, who toed the ball home to the delight of the fans.
Mexico drew level after the post denied Sebastian Cordova’s shot, and Jesus Carona buried his effort from the rebound inside the 18-yard box.
Canada 3-0 El Salvador
Goals from Atiba Hutchinson, Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan propelled Canada, playing at home, to a 3-0 win over El Salvador. The win ensured that the Canadians remain undefeated in the qualifiers and left them second in the point standings.
Both teams started the game strongly, and it was not long before the Canadians took the lead in the sixth minute. Jonathan Osorio intercepted a pass on the left side to make a cross into the six-yard box and onto the head of Captain Atiba Hutchinson for a brilliant finish, giving Canada a 1-0 lead.
The Canadians continued to be a dominant force on the attack and just five minutes after their first goal, David secured a second goal with a timely pass from Buchanan, making it 2-0 to the home team.
El Salvador kept attacking, in hopes of scoring, but the Canadian defense made it extremely difficult for their opponents to make it past the 18-yard box. Although the Canadians dominated the game, El Salvador’s goalkeeper, Mario Gonzalez, made some brilliant saves.
El Salvador returned after the break with a bit more force on the attacking end, but still failed to capitalize on their opportunities.
The third goal for the Canadians came in the 59th minute of play capitalizing on the mistake of El Salvador defender Eriq Zavaleta. Johnathan David a sluggish pass from the defender and, with a beautifully timed pass, Buchanan, presented a one-on-one with Gonzalez who couldn’t stop Buchanan’s shot Into an open El Salvador net.
Canada will continue their quest to make their first FIFA World Cup since 1986 when matches resume in October.
Honduras 1-4 USA
The United States came from a goal down in the first half to defeat Honduras 4-1 on Wednesday night. The victory landed the US third in the point standings in the hexagonal.
Los Catrachos, playing in front of home fans, brought the intensity early and created numerous half chances early in the contest. The men from America also had few looks on goal between Honduran raids.
Hondurans took the lead in the 27th minute with a Brayan Moya conversion. Moya pulled over a diving header from full back Diego Rodriguez’s pinpoint cross. Jonathan Toro should have doubled the lead five minutes later, but his curling effort from the top of the penalty area was just wide of the mark.
US captain Christian Pulisic had a chance to pull his team level in first half stoppage time, but for a last-ditch tackle by Maynor Figueroa. The Former Wigan Athletic defender timed his challenge to perfection, much to the delight of the partisan crowd. That effort ensured that Honduras took a 1-0 lead into the half time break.
With things clearly not working in the first half, Gregg Berhalter made three half-time changes. The American coach did not have to wait long for results. Merely three minutes on resumption, two of those substitutes combined to pull the USA level. Sebastian Lletget found Antonee Robinson at the back post with a cross from the right side and the Fulham man calmly slotted home the offering.
Buoyed by their goal team USA went on the attack in search their second goal. Pulisic had a goal bound effort smartly saved by Luis Lopez diving low to his right, and Tyler Adams forced Lopez into another spectacular save a few minutes later. The second goal for the Stars and Stripes was not far behind. Ricardo Pepi notched his first senior team goal. Handed his debut by Berhalter, Pepi rewarded his coach with a well-placed header from a DeAndre Yedlin cross giving his team a slight advantage in minute 75.
Things got worse for Honduras in the 87th minute. Another of Berhalter’s changes soon got into the action to take the game completely away from the Hondurans. Pepi picked up a loose ball after a defensive blunder, squared to Brenden Aaronson and the Red Bull Salzburg midfielder made no mistake with his finish in the 86th minute. There was still time for a fourth USA goal. Lletget put his team up 4-1 in 90+3, tapping home from close range after a Pepi shot was initially saved by Lopez
The win puts the USA in third place, with Mexico leading the way with seven points and Canada and the USA on five points separated by goal difference.