ST. JOHN’S, Canada— Canada and Haiti played to a goalless draw Monday night down in Mexico despite some decent chances at both ends of the pitch.
Back at full strength after starting their tournament opener with just ten players, the Haitians looked content to clog up the middle of the park and allow for Canada to largely possess the ball on the flanks and in deep-lying positions.
The hesitancy to press and close down wide options early nearly backfired in the opening quarter of an hour as CF Montreal right-back Zachary Brault-Guillard whipped in a good ball which Tajon Buchanan came close to depositing in the 13th minute.
Possession with little chance creation was a big theme of the opening 45’ with Canada failing to break through Haiti’s two flat blocks of four with any regularity.
After settling for a cameo off the bench against El Salvador, Theo Bair showed some positivity as a target man in the middle of the Canadian front line.
With Bair dropping deep to receive and Buchanan and Charles-Andreas Brym running beyond him, the signs were there for Canada to unlock the Haitian back line but the fluency we saw last Friday couldn't be replicated in this one.
At the break, shots on target favoured Canada 4-0 with keeper James Pantemis something of a spectator in the first half.
It was, however, a tale of two halves for Haiti, as the momentum was largely in their favour following the interval.
Pantemis was called into action for the first time in the 56th minute when the Montreal keeper was forced to parry a header over the bar.
Unfortunately for Marco Biello’s side, Pantemis bailing out Canada would become something of a regular occurrence in the final half-hour with the 24-year-old making a pair of massive stops in the 68th and 72nd minute.
Although most of the big chances fell Haiti’s way to close out the match, it was Canada who would get the last look on goal as substitute Ballou Tabla failed to convert a point-blank chance following a blistering counterattack from Buchanan.
This was an incredible run by Buchanan. He started the sequence with a block (not shown in clip) before putting his head down and doing everything right.— Farhan Devji (@farhandevji) March 23, 2021
This, after playing a full 90.
Good save, but gotta finish that. #CanM23 #CMOQ pic.twitter.com/kuyCrfFwyz
In the end, Canada failed to find the back of the net, and their over-reliance on Buchanan to play hero for the second straight match was apparent at times.
While Biello and Co. will be disappointed not to pick up all three points, there are some positives to take into their next contest.
Canada’s final group stage match comes against Honduras where they’ll need a win to secure first place in Group B, assuming Honduras defeats El Salvador later this evening. Kickoff against the Hondurans is Thursday at 10 EST on OneSoccer.