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Canada thumps El Salvador in key home win

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Canada wins first CONCACAF final round match since 1997.

El Salvador v Canada: 2022 World Cup Qualifying
Tajon Buchanan #11 of Canada battles for the ball with Eriq Zavaleta #4 of El Salvador during a 2022 World Cup Qualifying match at BMO Field on September 8, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

TORONTO, Canada—No Alphonso Davies? No problem!

Canada cruised to a 3-0 victory over visiting El Salvador despite a healthy contingent of supporters for the Central American visitors Wednesday night in Toronto.

In a contest that many were calling a must-win, Canada seized control early and never looked back, and sit in a good position after three stages of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

With Davies returning to Munich for attention to his injured leg, Canada would be relying on different stars, but stars nonetheless. El Salvador, on the other hand, would be putting out a lineup that did not have the luxury of as much squad rotation as John Herdman’s side over the past week, and fatigue may have been starting to creep in.

However, if you’re the immortal legend Atiba Hutchinson, fatigue is just something the army wears. The 38-year-old, appearing in his 88th contest for the red and white, opened the scoring in the 6th minute, after some nifty passing play ended with Rich Laryea finding the Canadian captain in front for the tap in.

And the Canadians just kept coming. In the 11th minute, Jonathan David put a lovely header on a Tajon Buchanan cross that had eyes and power and found the back of the net, and just like that Canada was up a pair and the large El Salvadorian support was silenced.

Buchanan will be sporting some bruises after Alexander “not as good as Cyle” Larin stomped on him once and kicked him in the back of the leg on a header attempt on another occasion, and easily could have been sent off multiple times in the first half, as the El Salvadorian attempted to get under Tajon’s skin both literally and metaphorically.

Luckily for Tajon, El Salvador management deemed at half that Larin was probably lucky to be on the pitch, so they subbed him out. And Buchanan got the last laugh in the 59th, when Jonathan David took an Eriq Zavaleta pass that was presented on a platter, broke in 2-on-1 against the TFC defender and found Buchanan who scored his second in a senior men’s team shirt to give Canada a 3-0 lead and it was game over from there as Herdman subbed out five of the six midfielders and strikers, and the defence shut things down.

Milan Borjan managed a clean sheet without any shots on target against, while Atiba is now one away from the all-time men’s lead for caps, behind Julian de Guzman’s 89.

Canada next plays Mexico on October 7th in Mexico City, then travels to Jamaica, before returning home to face the most central of Central Americans, Panama.

Mexico has beaten Jamaica and Costa Rica in this window, before drawing against Panama. Panama drew with Costa Rica, beat Jamaica as well, and had that previously mentioned tie with Mexico. Both of those teams sit in the top four after three rounds of 14, and these will be big away contests that Canada will be hoping to get something out of. Anything will do, really. I’d be good with a point. Please.

I digress.

With just less than a month to go before these big contests, Canada will be hoping that Alphonso Davies is fit and ready to return in time for them. While Canada’s depth has been on display and will need to be again, to quote John Herdman, Davies is “the jewel in our crown” and the hopes of FIFA World Cup 2022 participation certainly look better with him in the lineup. But after tonight’s performance, his presence may not be 100% necessary.