The final window of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying started with a bang on Thurday night with Costa Rica and Panama switching spots in the race for automatic qualification.
Celso Borges played the hero for The Ticos at home, scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 home victory against group leaders Canada. Mark-Anthony Kaye’s ejection didn’t help John Herdman’s side in San Jose, as Canada suffered a first defeat of the octagonal round.
Costa Rica jumped into fourth place on 19 points, moving one point ahead of fifth-place Panama following the Panamanians 1-1 draw with Honduras.
In a match inconsequential to qualifying for the World Cup, Jamaica and El Salvador played out a 1-1 draw in Kingston. Eriq Zavaleta, who recently signed with the LA Galaxy, scored first for El Salvador before Andre Gray equalized in the second-half for the Reggae Boyz.
Look back on all the action from Thursday’s World Cup Qualifying matches:
Costa Rica 1, Canada 0
(Celso Borges 45+1′)
Costa Rica is storming up the table, this time securing a massive three points against Canada. Celso Borges’ 26th international goal proved to be the difference as The Ticos leapfrogged Panama into fourth place.
Borges’ goal came in first-half stoppage time as the veteran midfielder headed home off of a set-piece situation.
Mark-Anthony Kaye was sent off with his second yellow card in the 34th minute, setting up Costa Rica to have a chance at a huge win. Despite the man advantage, Costa Rica still had to weather 17 shots and 68% of possession from Canada.
Costa Rica continues an incredible recovery in qualifying. This result is the fourth win in the last five matches and continues a five-match unbeaten run. The Ticos are now one point ahead of Panama in the intercontinental playoff spot, and their next qualifier comes against El Salvador. The win over Canada could set up a high-stakes final qualifying match against the United States next Wednesday.
Panama 1, Honduras 1
(Rolando Blackburn 23′) – (Kevin Lopez 65′)
Honduras may be eliminated from qualifying, but The Catrachos showed they still have a lot of fight. A draw against Panama on Thursday night held The Canaleros back from challenging Costa Rica for the fourth-place intercontinental playoff spot.
Rolando Blackburn put Panama ahead in the 23rd minute, scoring off a long ball from Fidel Escobar. Kevin Lopez headed in Honduras’ equalizing goal in the 65th minute.
With this disappointing result, Panama heads into the next qualifier against the USMNT with even more desperation. Another Costa Rica win could mean Panama is all but out of contention for the World Cup.
Jamaica 1, El Salvador 1
(Andre Gray 72′) – (Eriq Zavaleta 21′)
Jamaica and El Salvador are both already eliminated from World Cup qualifying contention. However, a draw for El Salvador in Jamaica seemed to be a creditable performance.
LA Galaxy defender Eriq Zavaleta headed in the first goal off of a set piece, and made history in doing so. It was El Salvador’s first goal in Jamaica in 30 years. QPR forward Andre Gray leveled the match by finishing off a cross from close range in the 72nd minute.
Neither squad can be happy with their position in the final three games of qualifying. However, El Salvador saved some face with a good result in Jamaica on Thursday.