Jonathan David scored a splendid second half goal as Canada won 2-0 in Honduras for the first time in nearly 37 years in CONCACAF FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying on Thursday.
Without key pieces in Alphonso Davies and Stephen Eustaquio, it wasn’t always pretty, but Canada came away with the win in San Pedro Sula thanks to a first half Honduras own goal, and a bit of brilliance by Jonathan David midway through the second half.
The Canadians got off to a dream start on Thursday as Honduran defender Denil Maldonado clumsily headed the ball into his own goal in the 10th minute of the match. Leading up to the error, Club Brugge’s Tajon Buchanan showed off his quick feet on the right side before whipping a ball into the box towards Cyle Larin who was creeping in the six-yard box. The ball never found Larin, instead it was deflected into the net as Maldonado seemed to have trouble deciding whether to head or kick the ball. Unluckily for him his error cost his side dearly.
Canada kept up the pressure early on and had a great chance on the counter in the 16th minute. Larin bombarded forwards with Junior Hoilett to his right, but Larin’s through ball in search of his teammate was blocked.
The remainder of the first half was quite scrappy with Honduras attempting to disrupt Canada’s fast start. Tackles were flying in left, right, and centre as midfielder Samuel Piette was an unfortunate casualty of the Hondurans aggressive play and had to be substituted out in the 39th minute with Liam Fraser coming on to replace him. More on Fraser later on.
Honduras were able to keep better control of the ball as the half went on but did not have any clear cut scoring chances. Their best chance came off a long ball which Milan Borjan had to deal with, rushing out of his goal and punching the ball clear before the Honduran striker could latch onto it.
Canada, and Jonathan David in particular, started the second half brightly. In the 55th minute, after beating two defenders with some clever dribbling, David attempted a shot but didn’t get enough power on his effort to get it past Luis López in the Honduras goal.
After that missed opportunity from David, Honduras were able to have their most productive spell of the match. They had a fantastic chance to equalize off of a free kick in the 70th minute when a flicked header from Kervin Arriaga seemed destined for the goal. Milan Borjan had other ideas though as he fully stretched out to his left post and got a strong hand on the ball to somehow parry it wide.
Three minutes later, Canada would find their insurance goal in spectacular fashion.
In the 73rd, Fraser collected the ball from Sam Adekugbe just outside Canada’s penalty area and spotted David making a run. Fraser then made the pass of his life, perfectly pinging the ball to David who received it onto his chest, and then his head, before finally chipping it over López. It was an exquisite long ball from Fraser, but David’s first touch, control, and cool finish was remarkable. A truly stunning goal.
Honduras would get one more chance in stoppage time, but Borjan seemed determined to keep his clean sheet as he made another diving stop, this time to his right.
Speaking after the match, Canada head coach John Herdman shared his thoughts on the win.
“We came in here to grind the result out and I thought that’s what the players did. We knew we had the quality in transition and we knew if we could manage the front three, we’d be ok,” said John Herdman, Men’s National Team Head Coach. “We’ll keep relying on that mettle, that comradery, that brotherhood and we’ll fight, that’s what it will be in any game against the US. You’ve gotta bring the battle, it’s a cup final at home.”
With the 2-0 win, Canada still remain undefeated in the final round of World Cup qualifying having now won five and drawn four. It was Les Rouges’ first road win of their Octagonal qualifying campaign and also their first win in Honduras in over 35 years. Canada last defeated Honduras away August 25, 1985 as part of their successful qualifying for FIFA World Cup Mexico 1986.
USA and Mexico also came away with wins on Thursday, but Canada’s victory means that they stay atop of the Octagon standings. With Costa Rica’s 1-0 win against Panama, Canada now find themselves five points clear of the Panamanians who occupy the inter-confederation playoff spot.
After this win and Panama’s loss, a top three finish and automatic qualification to Qatar 2022 certainly seems attainable at this point for Canada. They are in a great position with five games remaining.
It’s also worth noting that Jonathan Osorio came off the bench and made his milestone 50th international match appearance for Canada.
Next up for Herdman’s men is a home match in Hamilton, Ontario on Sunday against rivals the United States. Kickoff for that one will be at 3:05 pm EST.
Allez Les Rouges!