Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team defeated El Salvador 2:0 at Estadio Cuscatlán, in San Salvador, SLV to close the January FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers window with a perfect 9 points. It was Canada’s first victory in El Salvador since 1986. Canada became the first team to win six straight games in the Concacaf Final Round of World Cup Qualifiers since the new format was adopted in 1997.
Canada leads the Quest for Qatar with 25 points, four points ahead of second-place United States (21 points). Atiba Hutchinson (66‘) and Jonathan Daivd (90’) scored for Canada. Milan Borjan with a series of huge stops in the closing minutes earned his third consecutive clean sheet of the window.
Canada will face Costa Rica away, Jamaica at home, and Panama away to close out the Octagonal FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers in March. The top three teams in the group automatically qualify for Qatar 2022 with the fourth-place team sent to face the champion of Oceania Football Confederation in an inter-confederation playoff in June.
“This is a tough place to come, watching on TV you don’t really get a real sense of the atmosphere, but I’m proud, our mission was to own their ground,” said John Herdman, Men’s National Team Head Coach. “Destiny is in our hands, it’s where we wanted to be at this stage. We’ll keep believing. Our country is behind us.”
Canada’s first good scoring chance came in the 19’, as Samuel Adekugbe played a first-time pass across the box to Jonathan David, but the Salvadoran goalkeeper, Kevin Carabantes, made a brilliant save to deny the Canadian. In the 21’, Carabantes made another great save, pushing the long free kick from Stephen Eustaquio over the crossbar as it appeared to be dipping into the top corner.
In the 35’ Adekugbe hit a shot on the half-volley after the ball popped out to him at the edge of the penalty area, but the attempt was blocked by a defender. In the 40’ a quick shot from David went high and wide, after a nice little lay-off pass from Atiba Hutchinson.
Canada broke the deadlock courtesy of captain Atiba Hutchinson (66’). Cyle Larin made a great run with the ball from the halfway line and does incredibly well to stay on his feet after a tackle attempt by a Salvadoran defender and break to the byline before picking out the run of Hutchinson, who had sprinted the length of the pitch to catch up with the play. Hutchinson threw himself at the cross and his shot hit the near post, bounced back in play and ended up hitting Hutchinson who was on the ground and floating over the keeper and into the net.
In the 73’, Eustaquio played an in-swinging free kick which found Larin all alone in front of goal but his header went wide of the far post. El Salvador got their first shot on target in the 90+2’, which was a straightforward save for Borjan.
Just one minute later, Borjan made an incredible save to maintain the clean sheet as he backpedalled towards his goal and leaped to push the ball over the crossbar on a shot that came from near the half (90+3’).
David doubled the lead for Canada with one of the last kicks of the match, breaking away from a defender and racing in all alone and scooping his shot over the on-rushing keeper to seal the win for the visitors (90+4’).
Canada’s starting XI featured Milan Borjan in goal, with Samuel Adekugbe, Doneil Henry, Richie Laryea, and Scott Kennedy making up the defensive line in front of him. Stephen Eustaquio returned to the side in midfield after missing the previous two matches, and was joined by Atiba Hutchinson, and Jonathan Osorio. Liam Millar, Junior Hoilett, and Jonathan David rounded out the side up front.
Coach John Herdman made a triple substitution, bringing on Tajon Buchanan, Cyle Larin, and Alistair Johnston in place of Osorio, Millar, and Hoilett (58’). Mark-Anthony Kaye replaced Eustaquio (80’) and Zachary Brault-Guillard came on for Laryea (83’).