VANCOUVER – Canada’s last-dash hopes of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia have ended.
Cyle Larin, Nikolas Ledgerwood and David Edgar all scored for the Canadian men’s soccer team on Tuesday night in a 3-1 victory over visiting El Salvador. But a 0-0 draw between Honduras and Mexico – also played Tuesday – meant Canada finished third in Group A of CONCACAF qualifying.
The Canadians entered their match with El Salvador needing the win, but it also needed to overcome a five-goal differential and for Honduras to lose outright to Mexico. Honduras earned a point in its draw.
Mexico finished atop the group standings, with Honduras in second place and El Salvador in fourth. Both of those nations advance to the next round of qualifying process known as “the Hex”, while the Canadian side will have to turn its attention toward World Cup aspirations in 2022.
After an anxious opening five minutes for the Canadians, the host team settled in, manufacturing one scoring chance after another.
Larin opened the scoring in the 11th minute, as he converted a shot from inside the 18-yard box to give Canada the early lead. It appeared during the play that the Canadian forward was offside, as the ball bounced fortuitously to his feet and only goalkeeper Oscar Arroyo Peña stood in front of him. But the play was not blown dead and Larin finished his opportunity.
The Canadians continued to press for more scoring.
Larin and Tosaint Ricketts had the bulk of the chances for Canada in the opening half, but both were unable to convert.
Larin deflected a perfect cross from Marcel De Jong over the net. Only a few minutes later, Ricketts couldn’t make contact on a cross from Larin on a play that could’ve resulted in an easy wide-open net goal for the Canadians.
Canada increased its lead to 2-0 in the 53rd minute when Ledgerwood converted on an opportunity. The momentum seemed to continue in their favour, as El Salvador’s Darwin Ceren was handed his second yellow card and ejected from the match just three minutes later, putting the visitors down to 10 players.
But Canada’s chances of a miraculous entry into the next round faded when Nelson Bonilla Sanchez scored for El Salvador on a counter attack, cutting into Canada’s lead in the 78th minute.
Edgar converted for the Canadians in second half stoppage time to restore a two-goal advantage.
El Salvador’s players claimed prior to the match that they had been offered financial incentives for three different results – a win, draw or 1-0 loss to Canada. The players also claimed that they had refused the offer.
Note: Announced crowd at B.C. Place Stadium was 20,726.