Canada comprehensively beat El Salvador 3-0 in the third game of the final round of World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying at BMO Field in Toronto Wednesday.
And Canadian head coach John Herdman was obviously pleased with the win and felt his side were worthy of the one-sided victory.
“It’s what the team promised,” said Herdman, speaking to the media after the game. “We knew El Salvador had a real gutty defence and the longer they were able to stay in the game the tougher it would get for us.
“So the plan was to get right on the front foot, to give that intensity to every part of our attacking. So (I’m) really proud of the lads, how they took that on.”
Canada’s perfect start
Veteran Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson opened the scoring in the sixth minute. The 38-year-old cleverly redirected a pass by Richie Laryea to claim his eighth international goal, getting the hosts off to the perfect start.
“We wanted to have a good start,” said Hutchinson after the game. “We knew that would be the best way to get our fans behind us.
“Fortunately we got an early goal and were able to settle and play our game. And things opened up a bit more. And the second came.”
Striker Jonathan David doubled the lead five minutes later, heading in a Tajon Buchanan volleyed cross. It was the Lille OSC forward’s 16th goal for his country.
“Any time you start a game and get and early goal, it’s a sense of, I wouldn’t say relief, but it always helps,” said David, speaking to the media after the match. “Because you know, all of a sudden you’re one-nil up and you can keep going at that pace. The opponent feels under pressure and they’re vulnerable at that time. And you just try to keep going and put pressure on them.”
Canada embracing Concacaf’s dark arts
El Salvador could have, and perhaps should have, been reduced to 10 men before halftime. Buchanan was on the receiving end of some brutal, and seemingly intentional, foul play by Alexander Larín, with the El Salvador defender escaping serious punishment.
But Canadian midfielder Buchanan had the last laugh, calmly finishing past El Salvadoran keeper Mario Antonio Martínez in the 59th minute after being played through by Jonathan David, who had forced a turnover seconds earlier.
“You are learning that there are dark arts here in the games in Concacaf,” said coach Herman after the game. That team, it’s a big part of how they play. By breaking up the game constantly they’re able to regenerate, recover and then go again.
“We knew that was part of it. We said,”embrace it.”
Big win gives Canada confidence going forward
The result means Canada sits on five points after three games of the eight-team final round of qualifying, also known as the ‘Octagaon’. Canada previously drew 1-1 with Honduras and the United States in the first two matches. At time of writing, Canada were second place in the table, two points behind first place Mexico.
“I think this win puts us in a good position,” said striker Jonathan David. “It was good. It gives us confidence. We’d have preferred to have more points (at this stage). But this is the situation and we have to take it.
“We have to get the confidence from this game and bring it to the next camp.”
All players will now return to their clubs to pick up where they left off before the international window.
But Canada returns to play next month when they travel to Mexico October 7, before visiting Jamaica October 10. Canada then wraps up the October international window three days later in Toronto with a visit from Panama.