Canada beat Honduras 2-0 in San Pedro Sula in a professional display Thursday to bolster their chances of qualifying for World Cup 2022 Qatar.
And while Canada was without superstar Alphonso Davies, coach John Herdman was confident this squad had the composure to earn its first away win of this World Cup qualifying final round.
“It was never going to be a pretty match for us,” admitted Herdman, speaking to media after the match. “But it had to be disciplined. That team had massive threats, transitional threats. But we also knew we could be dangerous in the transition.”
Buchanan forces an own goal
Honduras kicked the game off brightly, but Canada coped well and quickly gained the ascendency.
And the Canadians took the lead in the 10th minute thanks to an own goal by Honduran defender Denil Maldonado after some excellent work by Tajon Buchanan on the right wing.
The Club Brugge winger skillfully beat Honduran defender Diego Rodríguez before aiming a dangerous cross into the six yard box. Defender Maldonado could do nothing but head the ball into his own net.
The first half then progressed with no more major incidents, with each side only conjuring a handful of half-chances. Though, midfielder Samuel Piette went off injured in the 39th minute after being on the receiving end of a hard tackle.
“I thought that’s where we were clinical tonight,” said Herdman. “We bent a little bit, but we didn’t break. And that’s the story, I think, of the identity of this team.”
David secures the three points
Canada began the second half strongly with Canadian forward Jonathan David putting an effort wide in the first 47th minute. David again had chance to double the lead in the 54th minute, but was denied by Honduran Luis López when one on one.
Canadian keeper Milan Borjan saved a 58th minute header by Anthony Lozano. But the Crvena zvezda keeper was forced into an even better save 10 minutes later, diving to his left and using his finger tips to deny a Honduran header.
“We knew Milan would be called upon,” said Herdman. “We primed him in that conversation. And he was going to have a big night.”
And Canada soon capitalized on Borjan’s heroics.
Midfielder Liam Faser launched a ball 40 yards upfield to release Jonathan David in the 73rd minute. And the Lille OSC forward brilliantly controlled the ball, first with his chest and then his head, before cleverly lobbing an onrushing López to score his 19 international goal.
It took only three touches by David to score one of the best goals of Canada’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
“The goal (David) scored, that was special,” said Herdman. “I mean, that’s what this team is. It can balance it out. It can grind. It can defend. It can hit teams on the counter attack. And on other days it can play.”
From then the result was never in doubt. Though Borjan made another excellent save in the 92nd minute, this time diving to his right to save another header and to preserve his clean sheet.
“It was a real disciplined performance tonight,” said Herdman. “You don’t come here and try and play like Barcelona on a pitch like this in these environments. You come here to grind results out. Get what you need – a two-nil performance.”
Thursday’s result keeps Canada atop the Concacaf World Cup qualifying table with five matches remaining.
Canada returns home to host the United States in Hamilton Sunday before traveling back to Central America to face El Salvador in San Salvador Wednesday.
CONCACAF World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying final round
P=progressed to inter-continental playoff
Updated March 30 2022