BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Helped by an own goal and strikes by Cyle Larin and Junior Hoilett, Canada dispatched Haiti 3-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate to advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF.
The Canadian men, who last reached the final qualifying round in 1996-97 in the lead-up to France '98, now join the heavyweights in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. The eight-country final round includes Mexico (ranked No. 11) the U.S. (No. 20), Jamaica (No. 45), Costa Rica (No. 50) and Honduras (No. 67), who received byes as the top five teams in the region.
The 70th-ranked Canadians joined them the hard way, slogging through two rounds and six games in qualifying. They have earned themselves at least 14 more qualifying matches.
Canada came into Tuesday night's match at SeatGeek Stadium against No. 83 Haiti needing a win or a draw to advance in the wake of Saturday's 1-0 win in Port-au-Prince on a 14th-minute goal by Larin.
Canada came on Tuesday as the first half wore on, with a string of late chances off set pieces. But Haiti, despite missing some players who were unable to make the trip, somehow survived the pressure to go into the changing rooms scoreless at halftime with Montreal-born goalkeeper Josue Duverger standing tall.
But a 46th-minute blunder by Duverger extended Canada's aggregate lead when the 'keeper misplayed a routine back pass from Kevin LaFrance. Duverger missed the ball with his attempted first touch and, when he went to control it with his right foot, it bounced in off his left as Jonathan David steamed towards him.