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Jonathan David scores to earn Canada first-ever Copa America win

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Canada collected three massive points, and greatly improved their chances of advancing from the 2024 Copa America group stage, with a 1-0 victory over Peru in Kansas City Tuesday.

A brilliantly executed counter-attack by Canada in the 74th minute, culminating in striker Jonathan David’s 27th goal for Canada in his 50th cap, proved to be the match-winner.

David’s phenomenal goal was historic for many reasons: it was Canada’s first-ever goal at the Copa America, it was Canada’s first goal under new Head Coach Jesse Marsch, and it gave Canada its first-ever win (and first-ever points) in a major international competition (World Cup and Copa America). 

I look at the result, and I know that the guys are excited to make history,” Marsch said post-game. Both David’s goal and the win were huge moments in Canada’s soccer history, he continued.

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When asked about what a win like this means for the team’s progression, David said, “We can deal with adversity, we can battle and we can get results.”

“Obviously, there are still things to improve and we know that, but the most important thing today was to assure ourselves that we can win a game.”

With the win, Canada improves to 1-0-1 (three points) and climbs up into second in Group A, behind defending Copa America and World Cup Champion Argentina who lead the group with a 2-0-0 record (six points).

But make no mistake. This wasn’t an easy game for Canada; the scorching 30-degree Celsius heat and Peru’s physicality and strong technical abilities made it a demanding affair that tested the Canadians’ quality and ability.

Given their 2-0 loss to Argentina, Marsch and his squad knew a loss against Peru would eliminate them from knockout-round contention. 

Physical battle from the start

Immediately from kickoff, both teams were quite physical, one could tell it would be a scrappy game. Overall, Peru had 17 fouls; Canada had 14.

For the first 20 minutes, Canada overloaded the midfield and allowed Peru to build out from the back, trying to force them to make a mistake. 

Peru was happy to sit back in a low-defensive shell, and allow Canada to have the majority of the ball – possession was 62-38 percent in Canada’s favour– and attack on the counter. 

Canadian keeper Maxime Crepeau was phenomenal again, making four fantastic saves – including a critical save in stoppage time to preserve Canada’s lead – to earn the clean sheet. He’s made 10 massive saves in two matches and should get attention from several big European Clubs this summer.

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Peru was the much better team for the rest of the first half. They dominated possession, played on the front foot, and took advantage of several errors by Canada’s backline with their speed and accurate long passes to create numerous quality chances to test Crepeau. The left side of Canada’s defense looked disorganized –with Alphonso Davies and Richie Laryea both pushing up the pitch– which created lots of open space for Peru to exploit.

“First half, we had a good start, but then Peru started pushing us … we talked about wanting to make a big statement, make history, show that we’re ready for bigger challenges,” Marsch said.

In the 33rd minute, a beautifully taken free-kick was headed home by Peru forward Gianluca Lapadulla, however, the goal was chalked off for offside. A huge wake-up call for Canada.

The game remained chippy and tightly contested. In the 39th minute, Peru’s Marco Lopez should’ve seen red after blatantly head-butting Alistair Johnston. But even after VAR looked at it, shockingly no red card was given. 

At halftime, Peru had all the momentum. Possession was even 50-50, but Peru outshot Canada 5-1 (2-0 on target) and created the more dangerous chances.

Peru eventually receives red card

In the 59th minute, the game swung in Canada’s favour. Peru defender Miguel Araujo committed a late, studs-up tackle on Canada forward Jacob Shaffelburg which drew a red. Finally, Peru was down to 10 men.

“We responded in the second half in a really good way. I thought the subs we made, that all three players came on and helped the match,” Marsch said.

Peru knew that despite being a man down, they couldn’t sit back and defend. They had to attack and try to find a winner if they wanted any hope of advancing to the knockouts. 

Jonathan David and Jacob Shaffelburg celebrate Canada’s goal against Peru in the Copa America in Kansas City Tuesday. Photo: Canada Soccer

Canada used that to its advantage. They controlled possession in the middle of the park and sent long through passes behind Peru’s high line or down the flanks which resulted in several high-quality chances. 

Canada pushed and pushed for the winner and was finally rewarded on the counter.

Cyle Larin gained possession in his defensive third off a Peru corner, before sending a beautiful long ball between two Peruvian defenders to Jacob Shaffelburg. The Nova Scotia native played a flawless one-touch cross between multiple defenders to the feet of David, who controlled it well and used his blistering speed to beat a defender before tucking it past Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s outstretched arm and off the post and in.

Shaffelburg, who has come off the bench in both games, may have earned a start against Chile given his excellent pace, passing, and ball-control abilities.

Peru remained resilient and pressed hard for an equalizer, forcing Crepeau into a few more big saves and clearances.

But Canada held on.

A win against Chile in Orlando will qualify Canada for the quarterfinals. And a draw is likely to earn progress too, unless Peru shocks Argentina in the other group game.


About Author

Adamo Marinelli is a multimedia freelance journalist who specializes in sports reporting. His writing, editing, and multimedia work has appeared in Total Soccer News, The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, The Hockey News, The Canadian Baseball Network, 49 Sports, Ottawa Sports Pages, Capital Current, 613 Sports, and The Charlatan.

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