Canada moves on to Gold Cup quarterfinal with another convincing win

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Canada booked a spot in the next round of the tournament with a convincing 4-1 win against Haiti at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on Thursday

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Two games and two wins have Canada moving into the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Gold Cup.

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Canada booked a spot in the next round of the tournament with a convincing 4-1 win against Haiti at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on Thursday.

Cyle Larin scored two goals, while Stephen Eustaquio and Junior Hoilett added the others for Canada, which concludes the group stage against the United States on Sunday. The game will determine the winner of the group.

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“We started fast and that was the focus to get out there and be first,” Canada coach John Herdman said. “It was great to see the intensity they started at. But with Haiti, they’re never going away, they’re always going to try and find a way through their athleticism and their spirit, just to keep fighting. I’m pleased that we don’t have to play them again for a few years.”

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Stephane Lambese scored for Haiti, which went into the game missing nine players due to COVID-19. Haiti had just three substitutes dress for the contest.

It wasn’t a completely dominating performance as Haiti did present some issues for Canada, but in the end, didn’t have enough to get back into the game after falling behind by two goals six minutes into the second half.

“We could definitely play better, we all know that,” Canada midfielder Tajon Buchanan said. “It was a tough game, we had to fight for one another and they never gave up. Credit to them for that.

“I was confident in the team and we were confident that in this game we would come away with the win. We all fought for one another and we’ll move and now we’ll look forward to the game against the United States on Sunday.”

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Eustaquio opened the scoring five minutes into the game with an outstanding free kick from 30 yards out, bending the ball over the Haiti wall and in past goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre.

Eustaquio, 24, was playing his eighth game for Canada after committing to play for his birth country in 2019. Eustaquio grew up in Portugal and currently plays his club soccer in the country.

“I thought Stephen did very well, obviously the free kick was top level and shows that he has that extra quality,” Herdman said. “His work-rate is infections.

“I thought, generally, we were a bit loose in midfield today, loose all over the pitch. The guys looked like they were starting fatiguing a bit. It wasn’t as crisp and it wasn’t as sharp as I’d expect and I know at half time we were addressing some of the lack of movement.”

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Following the goal, Haiti began working it way back into the game and had the better chances in the half.

Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau was called on to make a number of excellent saves, to keep his team ahead going into the break.

Six minutes into the second half, Larin scored to put Canada up 2-0, getting to the end of a cross from Buchanan and firing a shot past Sylvestre. Buchanan’s cross was originally intended for Lucas Cavallini, but was poked away at the last second and it fell to Larin.

Haiti cut into the lead in the 56th minute as Lambese finished off a good passing play, which started at the top of the Canada penalty area. Lambese took a pass from midfielder Derrick Etienne and hammered a shot into the roof of the net past Crepeau.

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There were some tense moments for Canada after conceding the goal, but were awarded a penalty after Richie Laryea was chopped down in the penalty area by defender Alex Christian. Play was allowed to continue, but referee Juan Calderon Perez was asked to look at the play by the video assistant referee. Perez looked at the play and awarded Canada a penalty.

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Larin stepped up and scored from the penalty spot to give Canada a 3-1 lead, which took the steam out of Haiti.

“Playing these teams, it’s always tricky, because they always bring something different than maybe some of the bigger nations in Concacaf,” Canada midfielder Samuel Piette said. “These are always tough opponents; you have to be ready and focused for 90-minutes plus.

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“Against any team you’ll always face tough moments and you have to make sure you go through these tough moments without showing too many weaknesses.”

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Canada brought on forward Ayo Akinola to make his debut for the country after switching allegiances from the United States.

Akinola, 21, was born in Michigan but raised in Ontario and plays for Toronto FC. He made an impact within 30 seconds of coming on the field, winning another penalty as he was hauled down by defender Francois Dulysse, who was shown a straight red card. Hoilett stepped up and converted the penalty to give Canada the 4-1 lead.

“I was really happy with Ayo coming in,” Herdman said. “It was disappointing that the player pulled him down, because I was hoping he was going to score in that moment. He did some really good work to create that opportunity, you can just see the quality in his timing and the tough he took to set himself up.”

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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