Canada blanks Panama 2-0 in Las Vegas, will meet USA in Sunday’s Nations League final
Published June 16, 2023 at 8:30 am
A workmanlike effort and two moments of sublime skill paced Canada to a 2-0 victory Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas and a spot in Nations League final.
The Canadians will play the USA in Sunday’s final after two goals from Christian Pulisic paced the Americans to a comfortable 3-0 win over Mexico in the late match at Allegiant Stadium on the Vegas strip.
A perfect pass from Kamal Miller in the 25th minute sprung Jonathan David and the Lille striker cooly put the ball through Panama ‘keeper Orlando Mosquera’s legs for his 25th career goal for Canada, second only to teammate Cyle Larin’s 28.
Alphonso Davies, just seven minutes after entering the match in the second half, fired a rocket into the roof of the net at the near post in the 69th minute to give Les Rouges a huge 2-0 lead; one they would not relinquish.
They were the first goals Panama had conceded in the competition.
Canada, ranked 47th in the world, is now one win from their first major trophy since winning the 2000 Gold Cup. The Americans are ranked 13th. The winner on Sunday will also collect a cool million dollars.
Canada controlled much of the early play – Hamilton’s Milan Borjan was tested only a couple of times in the match, while Mosquera had to be sharp to punch away a second half header from Larin (off a perfect cross from Brampton’s Tajon Buchanan) – but tempers flared late, `and Costan Rican referee Juan Calderon sent Panama’s Eric Davis off in the 89th minute (after a VAR review) for punching the back of Richie Laryea’s head.
Borjan, in his 74th cap, recorded his 35th shutout in Canadian colours while Atiba Hutchinson, playing in his final international tournament, came on as a substitute in the 76th minute to record his 104th international appearance for his country, a men’s national team record.
Canada (3-1-0) won Group C in the League A of the Nations League while Panama (3-0-1) finished atop Group B, outscoring No. 39 Costa Rica and unranked Martinique by a combined 8-0. Panama defeated Costa Rica 1-0 with a 77th-minute goal by Jose Fajardo to decide first place in the final group game.
Mexico (2-0-2) topped Group A, while the U.S. (3-0-1) won Group D.
Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest, who each had a hand in a U.S. goal, were both given red cards in a testy second half of the Mexico game and will miss Sunday’s final.
Canada improved to 5-2-6 against Panama, which won 1-0 the last time they met; four days after the Canadians had already qualified and only after a late tying goal by Larin was controversially overturned for offside.
After the Nations League, the Canadians turn their attention to the Gold Cup. Canada opens Group D play against a yet-to-be-determined wild card team in Toronto on June 27 before heading to Houston to play No. 116 Guatemala and No. 165 Cuba.
The Americans won the first edition of the CONCACAF Nations League in 2021, defeating Mexico 3-2 on Christian Pulisic’s penalty in extra time in Denver.
With files from Canadian Press
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