Scrappy Canada collects key win in El Salvador

Canada edges El Salvador

Junior Hoilett (left) and Canada found it tough going at Estadio Cuscatlán in a rough-and-tumble Concacaf World Cup qualifier in El Salvador. (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)

It wasn’t a pretty display of football. It was scrappy and chippy in front of a hostile crowd in San Salvador in humid conditions. Just your typical CONCACAF match in Central America.

Before kick-off, El Salvador players had threatened to boycott the match over bonus money its national federation had failed to pay. Canada appeared likely to win by forfeit.

This game was certainly more of an away match for Canada with hostile and loud crowd In the Estadio Cuscatlán compared to the Canucks last away match in Honduras.

The first half of the game was evidence both teams were tired after three games in seven days. Even moreso for Canada as they traveled to and from Honduras last week before their weekend match in Hamilton, Ontario, against Team USA. And then road trip to El Salvador.

The game opened up in the second half with both squads enjoying moments of pressure in the final third of the pitch.

In minute 66, the Canucks took a major step toward Qatar with one the most ridiculous goals ever scored. It couldn’t have happened to a better person than Besiktas man Atiba Hutchinson who is a soccer legend in Canada. Hutchinson has 91 caps with the national team.

Reliable Milan Borjan was ready when his team needed him the most. It wasn’t a busy evening for the goalie but when called upon he made a few key saves to preserve the one goal lead for Canada.

Canada’s star striker Jonathan David who plays for Lille burnished his reputation as the Ice Man, clinching the game with an incredible stoppage-time goal run, torching up the field to net his second goal in the January international window.

Canada still remains unbeaten in the final CONCACAF qualifying stage, good for a 4-point lead over Team USA and Mexico. John Herdman’s team isn’t officially in the big dance yet and will have to wait till March to book their plane tickets to Qatar. The loss leaves El Salvador 8 points back of fourth spot in the table and on the brink of their World Cup dreams being crushed.

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