Team Canada soars over Panama to keep World Cup dream alive

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FOMO (fear of missing out) was real on Wednesday night, with a long lineup snaking through the parking lot around Toronto’s BMO Field, showing little sign of easing as the Canada men’s national team held its ground against Panama. Kicked off the crucial World Cup qualifying game.

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In all fairness, trying to enter a stadium with nearly 30,000 fans following strict COVID-19 protocols was always going to be tough. But that didn’t stop fans taking to social media to express their displeasure over the proceedings, with some describing the proceedings as “complete and utterly shabby”.

They don’t need to worry.

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Although Panama scored on their very first visit to the pitch, Canada’s defense showed some fan solidarity after Rolando Blackburn made a steady line of his own with the taping, finding that Canada was just heating up. The national team registered their biggest win of the final round of qualifying for Qatar 2022, winning 4–1 to keep their World Cup dream well and truly alive.

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Second-placed United States defeated Costa Rica 2–1 on the first day, Canada beat Panama after six games to move to third place in the eight-team group with 10 points. , behind the United States entered a pair of games. In November, they will be played in Edmonton, against Costa Rica and Mexico. The top three teams after 14 matches qualify for the next year’s World Cup.

While many in the Canadian lineup responded to head coach John Herdman’s call to be more “brutal” after Sunday’s goalless draw in Jamaica, no one took that lead over Canada’s current men’s player of the year, Alfonso Davies. not displayed. Whether he felt any extra inspiration after watching his girlfriend, Jordan Huitema, record a hat trick for Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Women’s Champions League on Wednesday afternoon, Davies had some extra zip in what was already quite a zippy move. .

His regular employers – German champions Bayern Munich – could not be happier to see Davies in the starting lineup for the third time in seven days, especially after running out of home during the last international break in September, but rarely if there was any fatigue. Has shown. That point went home on his winning goal in the 66th minute, when he pulled over 30 meters to chase down an expected ball from striker Jonathan David.

After putting pressure on Harold Cummings to swing the ball to the right at the touchline, Davis spun infield and barreled toward the opposition penalty area, quickly wrong-footing his marker, Fidel Escobar, into a stable Luis Mejia in Panama. Behind the goal before driving a left footed shot.

“I was considering whether or not to go for the ball,” an unperturbed Davis said afterwards. “But I noticed that the defender looked a bit confused so I started to pick up the pace.”

Teammate Maxime Crepue, who revealed everything from his position at the other end of the pitch to Canada’s goal, was a little more upbeat about what was to be a defining moment in Canada’s World Cup qualification campaign.

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“It was great. Great run,” said the Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper. “He believed he could get there, the ball was on the line, he took it and then showed his quality.

“I’ve seen a lot of great goals but that was a great moment for the country… and a changing moment in the game.”

Even Drake apparently took notice, with Harderman later saying Toronto had reached out to rapper Davis.

“He just got a text from Drake,” Herdman said. “Drake wants to meet the boys.”

Primarily on the left in Germany, Davis was positioned by Herdmann on the left side of the Canadian attack, but it was clear that Davis was given the mandate to roam wherever he saw fit. Some commentators have already crowned the 20-year-old as the best player in the CONCACAF arena, and while this type of praise is unlikely to go to his head, his ability to get around any Panama defenders might make one think. Crazy enough that they can include him. Will do nothing to dampen the enthusiasm.

“We have some really quality players in the team and it’s a pleasure to share the pitch with them,” Crepue later said.

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Five minutes after Canada’s trail, Davis put David in the goal, but despite a record of 16 goals in the 21 matches that entered the game, David attempted to square the ball to David Woderspoon, whose shot was blocked. Davis simply looked at his partner.

David had another chance five minutes later, but when he decided to shoot at this point, his left-footed effort proved to be a comfortable save for Mejia in the Panama goal.

Presumably, it was Davis who served the tying goal, capping a diligent first half hour by driving an in-swinging corner kick toward the near post. Although it missed Tajon Buchanan’s head, it inadvertently hit Michael Murillo’s head past the Panamanian trap.

With soccer’s version of hockey’s bench-clearing melee, tempers flared on the verge of halftime – with the Toronto Maple Leafs hitting their home opener across the city, appropriately enough – with all but the Panamanian goalkeeper around the corner. Around the flag was pushing on a perceived slight. But the gap allowed everyone to cool off, and Harderman was able to re-focus his troops.

A more purposeful Canadian team emerged after the break. After knocking on the door in the first 20 minutes or so, Davis’ signature moment ended any remnants of Panama’s resistance.

Considering their record of four draws in five qualifying games, Canada refused to take their foot off the gas, with further goals from Buchanan and David putting exclamation points on what Harderman described as a “major home performance”. Gave.

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