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Puerto Rico 0:3 Canada. Textbook away performance.

It could be argued that that was a textbook away performance from Canada.  It was a tough start, with plenty of pressure from Puerto Rico, and 4 corners in the first ten minutes, but with a couple of good saves from Lars Hirschfeld, they weathered the storm without giving up a goal, and slowly came into the game.  They started getting chances and finally scored one, controlled the game for a long stretch, then soaked up the pressure from a more offensive Puerto Rico team while looking dangerous on the break, before getting two late goals to put  the game away.  

Stephen Hart put it another way in his post game interview, quoted from the Canadian Press "I think mentally we were prepared to realise that they would come early in the game, trying to get a goal on us and probably rattle us.  I told the guys the game was probably going to be won in the second half, especially in this heat, be patient, don't give the ball away."  And that's exactly what they did.  Textbook.

Of course, you can say that they should be able to do more against Puerto Rico, they shouldn't have to rely on such smash and grab tactics against a weaker team, but this wasn't playing at home against a poor, poor team like St Lucia, this was a genuinely tricky away game, it really was all about the result.  Get the win and move 5 points ahead of the Puerto Ricans, who were judged to be the most difficult opponent in the group, and in the toughest game out of the 6, in hot and humid conditions, against a team that knew it had to win to keep their chances alive, that's exactly what they did.

After the first half of the first half, Canada had only a couple of wayward shots from distance to show for themselves, but they slowly started creating chances, Josh Simpson and Will Johnson created the first really good chance, but Simpson miscontrolled right at the important moment, and the chance was gone.  Not to worry though as by now Canada was getting a lot of room down the flanks and was able to get plenty of crosses in to create chances, a trend that never really changed through the rest of the game.  David Edgar, getting the start at Right Back instead of Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault had a good game, making important clearances as well as getting forward to put in a lot of good crosses, especially in the first half.  It was the Left Back, Mike Klukowski who created the first in the 41st minute with a dangerous cross that was only partially cleared and fell to Iain Hume about 12 yards out who finished clinically to give Canada the lead.

The second half started off with more of the same, Josh Simpson on the Left Wing this time being the most dangerous player, but Canada couldn't get a second and eventually from about the hour mark onwards, Puerto Rico upped the pressure, got more and more into the game, and were looking genuinely threatening.  By now Simeon Jackson had been brought on for Terry Dunfield, his pace proving a vital counter attacking weapon.  He hit the post and had other shots deflected wide and it seemed like a matter of time until he finally got it right.  Happily for Canada it was.

Similar to the first goal, it was a rebound, this time from a David Edgar free kick swung in from the left that the goalie half saved, and jackson pounced on the loose ball to knock it home.  That was in the 86th minute and put the game away, the icing on the cake coming with Tosaint Ricketts scoring the third following a Jackson run down the right in injury time to seal a very satisfying result.

It was by no means a perfect performance from Canada, there's still lots of room for improvement, and really, the 3-0 final score is a bit flattering, but this is no time for such nit-picking.  Instead let's wallow in a very professional performance, which isn't something Canadian supporters get to do often.  They went into a tough environment and did what they needed to do, rode their luck and came away with 3 points.  That's of course 6 points out of 6 over the weekend, and Canada now has a stranglehold on group D, from here something would have to go horribly horribly wrong to see them relinquish the top spot.  Players and fans alike can go back to their clubs relaxing and bathing in the warm glow of a job well done.