Stalemates on match day one of final round of Concacaf World Cup qualifiers

Published on 03 September 2021

Cyle Carin ensured Canada earned a point with a 60′ equaliser against Honduras in the Octagonal round of the Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers, September 2nd 2021.

Canada 1-1 Honduras
BMO Field, Toronto, Canada

A penalty a piece for each team saw a 1-1 score-line at the end of the Canada and Honduras qualifier.

Alexander Lopez got the opener in the 40th minute from the penalty spot for Honduras. Canada’s goal also came from the penalty spot in the 60th minute through Kyle Larin.

Canada enjoyed possession for the majority of the game, and they attempted use their pace to get balls through and behind the Honduras defense.

Honduras’ working their way around with quick passes and players moving off the ball proved beneficial after Tajon Buchanan couldn’t keep up with Andy Najaf and brought him down inside the box. The defender found himself in the box after a quick “give-and-go” play out on the right side of the goal.

A confident Lopez dispatched a great penalty kick, keeping it low to the keeper’s right and into the corner. Canadian custodian Milan Borjan guessed the right way, but the ball was well out of his reach.  Honduras took the lead into the halftime break, 1-0.

Goals from open play were hard to come by, but some quick reaction from substitute Junior Hoilett in the box after Captain Maynor Figueroa brought him down gave Canada a chance to equalize from the spot. Larin made no mistake in getting the job done to bring his team back on level terms in the 60th minute.

The goal to take all three points evaded both teams for the remainder of the match, and they shared the spoils.

Canada next play the USA and Honduras will square off against El Salvador.

El Salvador 0-0 USA
San Salvador, El Salvador

In a match with two brothers on opposite sides, El Salvador held the USA to a goalless draw on Thursday night in their qualifier at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador.

Fans decked out in their home jerseys created an expansive sea of blue. The scene was further set with perennial pyrotechnics and festive music. The evening would also see the battle of the Roldan brothers—Alex Roldan for El Salvador and Cristian Roldan representing the USA.

El Salvador enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession for the first 23 minutes, with their usual play of working passes inside and out to get the variation of crosses inside the box.

Ronald Rodríguez came close to scoring with a header off a corner kick in the 16th minute. USA, too, had a few good looks at the goal, almost silencing the home fans, but it would not be as the first half ending the way it started.

In the second half, the USA’s Joshua Sargent received the final ball in the box from a breakaway, but his shot in the 40th minute was blocked and was sent out for a corner-kick.

Weston McKennie had a good delivery from the right side into the box. Kellyn Acosta elevated above the pack to send his strong header towards goal for the opener, but Mario Gonzalez effected a brilliant save to keep the game locked at nil-all.

The game would end with both teams sharing the points and looking forward for the next match day. El Salvador will face Honduras and USA will play Canada.  

Costa Rica 0-0 Panama

Panama City, Panama

Costa Rica barely hung on to salvage a 0-0 draw away to Panama.  Playing at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez, the Panamanians looked to press home the home-field advantage by putting Costa Rica on tremendous pressure early and often.  Matter of fact, it was one-way traffic for large portions of the encounter.

The first meaningful effort for Panama came in the 18th minute of play from a direct free-kick just outside the Costa Rican penalty area.  Fidel Escobar stepped up to take the free kick, but saw his powerful effort rise agonizingly at the last moment to sail over the cross bar.

The procession continued with Panama on the attack and Costa Rica committing bodies behind the ball looking to soak up pressure. Paris St Germaine’s ace Keylor Navas, in goal for Costa Rica, was called into action in the 35th minute to keep his team in the match.  Navas pulled off a brilliant save off an Alberto Quintero headed attempt. Quintero had found some space in the penalty area and headed with a lot of power from just around the penalty spot, but Navas was equal to the task. 

There were a few additional half chances for Panama but none materialized leaving the score at halftime 0-0.

The second half was similar to the first with Panama resuming on the attack.  Eric Davis came close to giving Panama the lead in the 51st minute. Davis’ spot kick narrowly missed the post, seemingly having Navas beat to that side.  Panama again threatened in the 59th minute, but Rolando Blackburn’s run was a bit late, and he could not latch onto a ball played at the back-post, another chance gone abegging for the home team.

The best chance of the match fell to substitute Alfredo Stephens.  Within minutes of entering the field, Stephens was presented with a golden opportunity to put his team in the ascendency, but he shot wide of the target from 10 meters after some enterprising work from the Panamanians.  Navas was again called into action in the 85th minute, pulling off a kick save to deny Panamanian playmaker Edgar Barcenas, who thought he had surely given his team the lead.

Panama had one last throw of the dice deep into stoppage time with a searching ball from the left side, looking to pick out the towering Jose Fajardo.  Fajardo headed wide of the target and with the missed chance also went Panama’s chance of securing maximum points in the match. 

In the end Costa Rica held on, albeit barely, to salvage a point.

 

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