CONCACAF big guns start with wins on road to Russia

Published 11/14/2015, 2:45 AM EST
Oribe Peralta (R) of Mexico battles for the ball against Roberto Dominguez of El Salvador during their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Mexico November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Henry Romero


REUTERS – CONCACAF big guns Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica all got off to winning starts on Friday in their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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The fourth round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean region saw few surprises with the United States crushing Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6-1, Mexico defeating El Salvador 3-0 and Costa Rica enjoying a 1-0 win over a determined Haiti.

The trio all qualified for the last World Cup in Brazil in 2014, with Costa Rica making the last eight and Mexico and the United States going out in the second round.

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Nov 13, 2015; St.Louis, MO, USA; USA forward Bobby Wood (18) is congratulated by teammates after scoring during the first half of a FIFA World Cup Qualifying soccer match St. Vincent & The Grenadines at Busch Stadium. USA won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Jurgen Klinsmann’s American team suffered a shock early goal from their Caribbean opponents with St Vincent striker Oalex Anderson opening the scoring in the fifth minute when he cut in from the left and curled a right foot effort past keeper Brad Guzan.

But goals from Bobby Wood (11) and Fabian Johnson (29) put the United States on their way to a comfortable Group C victory in St Louis.

Nov 13, 2015; St.Louis, MO, USA; USA forward Bobby Wood (18) moves the ball past St. Vincent & The Grenadines midfielder Seinard Bowens (17) during the first half of a FIFA World Cup Qualifying soccer match at Busch Stadium. USA won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Two goals from Jozy Altidore (31, 74), a Geoff Cameron header (51) and a Gyasi Zardes (58) strike made sure of a winning start for the U.S. who have not missed out on the World Cup since 1986.

Mexico’s new Colombian coach Juan Carlos Osorio made a winning start to his stint in charge of El Tri at the Azteca Stadium.

Andres Guardado calmed early nerves with a beautiful, curling free-kick into the top corner in the seventh minute of the Group A clash.

Mexico’s national soccer team coach Juan Carlos Osorio gives instructions to his players during their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match against El Salvador at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Mexico November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Hector Herrera was credited with the second goal in the 42nd minute when he floated in a dangerous ball which made its way into the far corner with Javier Hernandez’s attempt to flick it home distracting El Salvador keeper Henry Hernandez.

Striker Carlos Vela completed the win after the break with a delicate chip over the advancing Hernandez.

Carlos Vela (R)of Mexico scores against goalkeeper Henry Hernandez of El Salvador during their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Mexico November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Costa Rica are favourites to top Group B but they faced determined opposition in San Jose against a much-improved Haiti.

Cristian Gamboa slotted in the 29th minute winner after a superb passing move from the Ticos, who in Brazil managed to qualify ahead of Italy and England in their group.

Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz (front) fights for the ball with Haiti’s Max Hilaire during their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match at National Stadium in San Jose, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

In Group B’s other game, Panama enjoyed an impressive 2-0 win in Kingston against 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup runners-up Jamaica.

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Panama, who missed out on a place in Brazil on the final day of qualifying last time round, made sure of three points with goals from Armando Cooper (43) and Alberto Quintero (52).

Trinidad and Tobago, who have not made the World Cup since their appearance in Germany in 2006, got off to a positive start in Group C with a hard-earned 2-1 win in Guatemala.

Khaleem Hyland’s long range strike (67) and a superb Kenwyne Jones volley (80) gave Stephen Hart’s team a two goal cushion before substitute Carlo Mejia’s last minute consolation goal.

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Canada edged Honduras 1-0 in the late Group A game on Friday after Will Johnson’s first half goal in Vancouver.

(Reporting By Simon Evans. Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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