Top three in Concacaf a step closer to Qatar

TORONTO • Mexico claimed a 2-0 win at El Salvador on Wednesday while Canada thrashed Panama 4-1 at home as both teams remained unbeaten in Concacaf qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Leaders Mexico are on 14 points from six matches, three clear of the United States, who beat Costa Rica 2-1. Canada, bidding to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, are third on 10 points.

The top three in the eight-team group qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 with the fourth-placed finisher going into an intercontinental play-off for another spot.

In San Salvador, Hector Moreno struck 31 minutes into the first half to put Mexico ahead at Estadio Cuscatlan before Raul Jimenez added a second in stoppage time.

"Raul had almost a difficult year. We wanted our forwards to score goals and for us it is very important that the forwards are effective and we are very happy that Raul has scored again with the national team shirt," said Mexico coach Gerardo Martino of Jimenez, who returned to football in July after nearly eight months on the sidelines following a fractured skull.

Elsewhere, the flag-waving US crowd in Columbus were stunned when Costa Rica took the lead in just the second minute when Keysher Fuller strolled unmarked into the penalty area and bounced a cross past Zack Steffen.

But Sergino Dest equalised in the 25th minute and the United States went ahead in the 66th minute, with Tim Weah firing home from close range.

"The team dug in and stuck together and I was really happy with the performance after conceding the early goal," US captain Tyler Adams said.

After draws at Mexico and Jamaica in their last two qualifiers, Canada fell behind at home to Panama early on when Rolando Blackburn scored after five minutes. But the Canadians then began to dominate and were rewarded with an own goal from Panama's Michael Murillo off an Alphonso Davies corner.

Davies then put Canada ahead in the 66th minute, before goals from Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David gave the Canadians the comfortable win.

"We have a strong mindset with this team," said Davies. "He (coach John Herdman) has a plan and everyone executed the plan and this just shows the talent we have on this team."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2021, with the headline 'Top three in Concacaf a step closer to Qatar'. Subscribe