🌎 Canada close to Qatar, USMNT beat Honduras, Mexico defeat Panama late | OneFootball

🌎 Canada close to Qatar, USMNT beat Honduras, Mexico defeat Panama late | OneFootball

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Blaise Bourgeois·3 February 2022

🌎 Canada close to Qatar, USMNT beat Honduras, Mexico defeat Panama late

Article image:🌎 Canada close to Qatar, USMNT beat Honduras, Mexico defeat Panama late

The Concacaf Octagonal is highly contested this World Cup cycle, with Wednesday proving to be a turning point for many sides vying for Qatar.

Here’s what happened.

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Freak goal sees Canada nearly clinch World Cup place

Canada defeated El Salvador 2-0 on Wednesday night with Atiba Hutchinson scoring one of the strangest goals you’ll ever see to take Canada closer to Qatar.

Scorers: Hutchinson 66′, David 90+4′

With the win, Canada maintain their four-point lead atop the Concacaf table and have nearly assured themselves of a top-four finish, needing a point or Costa Rica to drop points in any of their final three games to do so.

After a gritty first half, Canada made a triple substitution in the 58th minute that gave the visitors the boost they needed to secure a much-deserved victory.

The match would ultimately be decided in the 66th minute when the 38-year-old Atiba Hutchinson scored in the strangest of fashions after attempting a diving header from a Cyle Larin cross.

Hutchinson’s header would strike the post but the ball somehow bounced directly into Hutchinson’s back while on the ground and found its way past a helpless Kevin Carabantes to give Canada the lead and send them one giant step closer to Qatar.

After a late surge from El Salvador, Jonathan David got behind the defense and chipped the goalkeeper to seal a truly historic victory.

Canada, of course, has only earned a single trip to the World Cup finals when they failed to register a single point or goal at the 1986 games in Mexico.

Canada wrap up qualifying in March at Costa Rica, at home to Jamaica, and at Panama.

Meanwhile, despite allowing just five goals in six home qualifying matches, El Salvador need more than a miracle to head to Qatar in November.

United States dominate Honduras in must-win match

The United States earned a crucial three points on Wednesday night, defeating basement dwellers Honduras 3-0 in sub-zero temperatures in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Scorers: McKennie 8′, Zimmerman 37′, Pulisic 67′

With the win, the USMNT also denied Canada a chance to clinch just their second-ever place in the World Cup tonight.

The United States needed a victory to assure themselves of some comfort heading into the March qualifiers and did so thanks to a trio of well-executed set-pieces after not scoring on a single set-piece in their first 10 qualifiers.

Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, who has arguably been the USMNT’s best player in the current international break, latched onto a Kellyn Acosta free-kick to give the Americans an early cushion.

About 10 minutes before the half-time whistle, the USMNT doubled their advantage as a free-kick fell into the path of centre-back Walker Zimmerman, who made no mistake from six yards out.

In the second half, Christian Pulisic made his impact just minutes after coming on, banging one in after the ball was knocked down in the box by Zimmerman.

The USMNT will finish up their qualifying campaign with huge games against Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica – who are all in the top-five in Concacaf qualifying.

Mexico use late penalty to earn important win over Panama

El Tri saw their qualifying hopes go through the roof on Wednesday night as an 80th-minute Raúl Jiménez penalty gave Mexico a 1-0 victory over Panama.

The victory gives Mexico (21 points) a vital four-point cushion over fourth-place Panama (17 points) with just three games to play, with Costa Rica (16 points) lurking in fifth place just one point back after their win against Jamaica.

Of course, the top three teams earn an automatic place in Qatar while fourth place must play a one-off against the winner of the Oceania Football Confederation tournament.

The two sides battled in an intense back-and-forth midfield battle that was hard-fought and sloppy at times, with a concerning injury to Chucky Lozano that required him to be stretchered off.

Shortly before the hour-mark, Mexico appeared to have scored but VAR brought the goal back as the cross occurred with the ball over the end line.

With about 10 minutes to go, El Tri were the fortunate benefactors of a penalty after the referee controversially claimed Diego Lainez was fouled in the box, with replays showing Lainez may have went down a bit easily.

Regardless, Raúl Jiménez calmly stepped up and converted the penalty to give Mexico a vital victory.

Other results:

  1. Jamaica 0-1 Costa Rica (Jamaica eliminated from World Cup contention)