On the strength of a Jonathan David strike and an own goal, Canada moved a step closer to qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Thursday with a 2-0 victory on the road against Honduras.
David broke in on goal after receiving an inch perfect pass from Liam Fraser and chipped the ball over Honduras keeper Luis Lopez to secure the win in the 73rd minute for Canada, as they remained undefeated and at the top of the CONCACAF qualifying table.
Honduran defender Denil Maldonado’s 10th minute own goal, off a Tajon Buchanan cross, got Canada on the board in the first half.
Canada has 19 points after nine games, one more than the United States and two more than Mexico, who currently occupy the third and final automatic qualifying position in the standings.
“We wanted to come out here and put out a big performance, we knew the start of the game would be tough for us, that they would come at us, put a lot of pressure on us and we just wanted to make sure we were ready for the fight from the start, withstand their pressure and at some point we’d be able to play our game and that’s exactly what we did,” Captain Atiba Hutchinson said after the victory.
“We showed real character today, everybody fighting for each other, like we always do to get a result here and it’s a special one because it’s been a long time waiting for us to come out here and do something big and we all did it today as a team, collectively.”
Buchanan forced Maldonado into the mistake after beating his man one-on-one just outside the opposition penalty area as he crossed a ball the defender was not able to handle, which he deflected past his goalkeeper.
Canadian keeper Milan Borjan earned the clean sheet for Canada and made an important save in each half to preserve the win. Just before half, he beat an on-rushing Romell Quioto to a ball, clearing the danger.
In the second half, he denied a Honduras goal with a diving stop in the 70th minute, just prior to David’s marker, helping Canada win in Honduras for the first time since 1985.
“We came in here to grind the result out and I thought that’s what the players did. We knew we had the quality in transition and we knew if we could manage the front three, which is a good front three in CONCACAF, we’d be ok,” head coach John Herdman said after the win.
“Milan came up big in some moments and I think we could’ve had them put to bed a little earlier with some of the transitional play, but all in all, three points, top of the group, still undefeated and we move on to the next game.”
Alphonso Davies missed Thursday’s game for Canada due to suffering mild myocarditis following a bout with COVID-19.
The 21-year-old will not be available for any of the three games Canada will play during the current window.
Stephen Eustáquio also missed Thursday’s game for Canada.