Curacao fend off tough challenge to sneak into second round
MIAMI, Florida (CMC) – Minnows Curacao held off a desperate bid from Central American side Guatemala to earn a nil-all draw on Tuesday, and sneak into the next round of CONCACAF 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers by the narrowest of margins. Both sides, unbeaten in Group C, entered the contest at the Ergilio Hato Stadium in Willemstad, level on nine points and on goal difference, and needing a victory to secure their place in the second round. However, neither side could break the deadlock after 90 minutes, and the point was enough for the home side to get through, by virtue of scoring 15 goals to Guatemala’s 14 in the competition. Goalkeeper Eloy Room, who plays in the Major League Soccer for Columbus Crew, kept the Dutch side in the contest by saving from Oscar Santis in the first half and then again in the second. But Curacao also spurned their chance to steal the points when England-based striker Juninho Bacuna was denied by goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen, as both sides finished level on 10 points.
In the other Group C game, Cuba edged St Vincent and the Grenadines through substitute Maikel Reyes’s 64th minute strike at the Kirani James Stadium in Grenada.
In Santo Domingo, St Kitts and Nevis slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in Group F but the result was irrelevant as the losers had already sewn up their second round spot, following their 3-0 win over Guyana last weekend. Duane Muckette put T&T ahead in the 36th minute for a 1-0 lead at the break before captain Khaleem Hyland added the second in the 74th, giving his side their second win of the competition. T&T finished second on eight points, one behind group winners St Kitts who won their opening three games.
The other group game was of academic interest, Puerto Rico brushing aside Guyana 2-0 at Warner Park in St Kitts.
Meanwhile, Haiti were the other Caribbean Football Union side to progress to the second round when they beat Nicaragua 1-0 at home in Port-au-Prince in Group E.
Playing in rain-drenched conditions at Stade Sylvio Cator, MLS-based striker Derrick Etienne finished off a counter-attack in the 63rd minute to hand Haiti the valuable win and their third straight in the competition. Both teams entered the game on six points and needing to win but Nicaragua failed to produce the chances necessary to grab full points.
There was heartbreak for the enterprising Montserrat in Group A as they beat Grenada 2-1 in St George’s but El Salvador thrashed Antigua and Barbuda 3-0 in the other group game to finish top of the pile on ten points. Grenada led on 51 minutes through Saydrel Lewis but Nottingham Forest’s Lyle Taylor, Montserrat’s captain, scored twice in three minutes in the 85th and 87th minutes, to seal a dramatic come-from-behind win and their second of the tournament to end second on eight points.
The other teams to advance to the second round were Canada, who beat Suriname 4-0 in Group B, and Panama who thumped the Dominican Republic 3-0 to win Group D.