FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Canada 4, Panama 1
Canada's 4-1 win over Panama on Wednesday in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying play saw multiple heated exchanges between the two sides.
The two benches cleared after an exchange between a Panama player and a Canadian sub just before halftime and players had to separated again after the final whistle, with Canada's Richie Laryea clearly irate.
Canadian head coach John Herdman said he doesn't condone all the extracurriculars that occurred Wednesday but said he doesn't expect his team to back down from a challenge.
"This is life or death for us," said Herdman. "We will fight. We will fight right to the bitter end for this country … Our purpose is bigger and stronger than any other team in CONCACAF. We haven't been to a World Cup since 1986. These teams have. So, when you're trying to take that away from us, we're getting in there — everyone."
"It's not nice to see and I don't condone what goes on," he added. "But at the same time our country needs us to fight. We cannot back down at any moment now."
The 51st-ranked Canadian men entered halftime tied 1-1 with No. 68 Panama, who opened the scoring in just the fifth minute of the game. Canada's offence came alive, however, in the second half after Alphonso Davies scored a brilliant goal on a solo effort that saw him track down a loose ball on the sideline and bring it into the box to beat goaltender Luis Mejia with a low shot in the 66th minute.
Tajon Buchanan extended the lead to two goals in the 71st and Jonathan David provided the team's final tally in the 78th minute.
"That was as good or as strong a performance as I've experienced or been a part of," Herdman said of the win.
The victory moved Canada into third in the eight-team CONCACAF round-robin, sitting one point back of the United States, who have 11 points, and four back of leaders Mexico, who have 14.
The top three teams in the round-robin will qualify for the 2022 World Cup, while the fourth-place team will take part in an intercontinental playoff.
Canada will continue their journey to Qatar 2022 next month, with two home matches in Edmonton, against Costa Rica on Nov. 12 and Mexico on Nov. 16.