SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – It was the most important game yet for this generation of Canadian soccer players. But it turned into a 90-minute nightmare.
For so long, Canada’s defence has been one of its greatest strengths, but on Tuesday, it was sheer agony for the backline, as Honduras ran rampant in an 8-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win.
New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengston and Carlo Costly netted hat-tricks, as Los Catrachos booked their tickets to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying at the expense of a Canadian side that needed just a tie to advance and had conceded just two goals in its previous five games.
One can immediately look back at June’s 0-0 draw between the two teams at BMO Field as the decisive moment in this group. Had Canada picked up a deserved win on that day, they would have already been through, but instead, they faced a daunting task of playing in the hellish cauldron of the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano, as their World Cup aspirations came to a spectacularly demoralizing end.
The clash started promisingly enough just two minutes in, as Nik Ledgerwood won space on the right hand side before crossing into Tosaint Ricketts, who miscontrolled with the ball at his mercy.
And the torture started just minutes later when Carlo Costly won a header that put Bengston through on goal for a calm finish past Lars Hirschfeld that brought the packed house to its feet for the first of many times.
Four minutes later, Canada had their best chance when Simeon Jackson’s shot from just inside the 18-yard box came back off the post and Ricketts again couldn’t bury the equalizer.
In the 16th minute, the Hondurans punished Canada’s woeful defending when Mario Martínez’s initial shot was palmed away by Hirschfeld right at Bengston. With no Canadians anywhere near him, Bengston easily finished into the open goal.
Honduras toyed with Canada from then on, and in the 28th minute, Bengston turned provider, heading a long, looping cross across goal for Costly to finish with an open header.
On Honduras’ fourth goal in the 32nd minute, Martínez nutmegged Andre Hainault before going in alone to cap off the first-half scoring.
The nightmare really just couldn’t end quickly enough for Canada and just over three minutes into the second half, Martínez found Costly from the right-hand side, with the former Houston Dynamo man easily beating a flailing David Edgar to head in.
Martínez’s spectacular left-footed curling strike with just under a half-hour left was just gravy for the home side, as the Canadian side was treated to a clinic.
Canada got one back in the 77th minute on a fine free kick, but Bengtson and Costly sealed their hat-tricks in the final five minutes to round off an emphatic victory for the home side.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jerry Bengtson||New England Revolution forward was rampant, scoring first two goals, setting up the third, and hitting a late hat-trick|
|2||Carlo Costly||Former Houston Dynamo forward was just as good as his partner in crime, setting up Bengtson's first and grabbing three of his own|
|3||Mario Martínez||Seattle Sounders FC winger hit two, including a beautiful curler, and bagged an assist|