On Tuesday, Canada took a giant step toward their first World Cup finals appearance in 36 years, defeating Mexico 2-1 to take the lead in the CONCACAF qualifying standings.
Two goals on either side of halftime by Turkey-based forward Cyle Larin propelled the Canadians to victory, putting them one point ahead of the US with 16 points from eight games.
Mexico’s 90th-minute goal set up a frantic finish at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, where the snow had been cleared from the pitch shortly before kick-off as temperatures dropped to minus 9 degrees Celsius (15.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
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As tempers flared, the final whistle was met with a mass confrontation involving players from both sides. As a result, Canada is now firmly on track to qualify for next year’s finals in Qatar. Canada’s only other World Cup appearance came in 1986, at the finals in Mexico.
Canada’s victory propelled them ahead of the United States in CONCACAF’s eight-team final round of qualifying.
The United States was held to a 1-1 draw by Jamaica earlier Tuesday, thanks to a spectacular equalizer by West Ham striker Michail Antonio, who secured a share of the points for the Reggae Boyz.
At Kingston’s Independence Park, Antonio’s 22nd-minute long-range effort canceled out a superb individual goal by US forward Timothy Weah. After 11 minutes, Weah, the 21-year-old son of former Liberian legend George Weah, put the US ahead.
The Lille attacker exchanged a clever one-two with striker Ricardo Pepi before bursting into the Jamaican penalty area.
Bobby Reid of Jamaica appeared to have the danger covered, but Weah used his strength to win possession before angling a deft shot across goal and in off the far post. It was a fitting reward for the Americans’ strong start, which included a close call on 16 minutes when Pepi’s shot was blocked and Brenden Aaronson’s follow-up effort was well-saved by Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.
The game’s complexion shifted in Jamaica’s favor on 22 minutes, when Antonio scored from nowhere.
When Antonio picked up the ball in midfield, nothing appeared to be on.
However, the striker cut inside Tyler Adams and then unleashed a ferocious 30-yard effort that flew past US goalkeeper Zack Steffen and into the top corner.
The goal instilled confidence in Jamaica, though the Reggae Boyz were fortunate to finish the first half with 11 men on the field after some tough defending.
Je-Vaughn Watson was booked for a foul on USA’s Gianluca Busio as early as the eighth minute.
Java Brown was also fortunate to remain on the field after a wild challenge on Adams in the 40th minute, which the US midfielder did well to avoid.
The second half followed a similar pattern, with neither team gaining control of the game.
In the 53rd minute, a deflected cross fell into the path of Jamaica forward Reid, who was only three yards away.
However, the Fulham player scooped his shot over the bar, and the US came out on top.
After 66 minutes, US coach Gregg Berhalter introduced Christian Pulisic, but the Chelsea star was unable to break the deadlock.
In the 84th minute, Damion Lowe headed into the net from a corner, only to have the goal ruled out for a shove on US defender Walker Zimmerman.
With Canada and the United States holding the top two spots in the CONCACAF table, Mexico fell to third with 14 points from eight games.
Panama moved into fourth place with a 2-1 win over El Salvador, while Costa Rica moved into fifth place with a 2-1 win over Honduras.