Canada gets rare win, topple St. Lucia

Canada's Simeon Jackson and St. Lucia's Bernard Edward fight for the ball during their 2014 World...

Canada's Simeon Jackson and St. Lucia's Bernard Edward fight for the ball during their 2014 World Cup Qualifying soccer game in Toronto. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

Morris Dallacosta, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

It was hardly a work of art.

In truth, it was downright ugly at times.

Nor did the final victory come with the authority that was expected.

But when wins have been as tough to come by as they have for Canada, you'll take one whenever you can.

Canada played its first game in the second round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Friday in Toronto with a 4-1 win over St. Lucia in front of 11,500 at BMO Field.

It's only Game 1 of six and Canada will probably get better . . . one hopes.

But even if as expected Canada manages to win this group, they are going to have to be considerably better if they want a sniff of winning anything after that.

"It was a first game and winning was important," said Canadian coach Stephen Hart. "We didn't lack for creating chances . . . We told them at the half that they were going to win the game. We weren't in any trouble."

Hart was right . . . Canada was never in any trouble but that doesn't mean they were running on all cylinders.

Josh Simpson scored two goals, one in each half with Dwayne DeRosario scoring on a penalty kick in the second half and substitute Will Johnson scoring in the 90th minute with St. Lucia down to 10 men.

Tremain Paul scored for St. Lucia to tie the game 1-1.

St. Lucia is hardly the kind of soccer power that would cause anyone to tremble in their boots. But three points is a precious commodity in qualifying.

Currently ranked No. 102 in the world, Canada is the favourite to advance from its CONCACAF qualification second-round group. They are strong than St. Kitts and Nevis (No. 122), Puerto Rico (No. 144) and St. Lucia (No. 184). Only the winner of the pool advances to the next round of the CONCACAF qualifiers.

Despite the obvious superiority in the rankings and skill-set, nothing is certain in the world of football.

The expectations going into the game was of a clear Canada victory.

Anything less than a significant victory would be troublesome to Canada. Canada coach Stephen Hart repeatedly stated he wasn't looking for 10-0 wins but simply a win.

The game started with Canada looking as if it wanted to score 10 goals immediately.

"We played like we wanted to win the game in the first 15 minutes," Hart said. "If we were a little more patient, showed a little more composure around the box we would have scored more.

"We told them at the half that you can't be throwing yourself forward and not be thinking of what the end product is going to be."

The early going proved several things. Canada intended to throw a lot of players forward in attack, hoping to swamp St. Lucia.

It also proved the unpredictability of soccer in a stunning fashion. From the opening kickoff Canada laid siege to Iran Cassius' net. Simpson, Simeon Jackson, DeRosario came forward creating numerous chances.

In the sixth minute, Canada cashed in on its pressure. A well-worked break moved the ball to the foot of Simpson. He whipped a shot that Cassius parried but it hit the foot of a defender and went into the net.

There were big celebrations in the stands and on the pitch. Surely the floodgates would now open.

The fans had barely sat down when the worm turned. St. Lucia's Tremain Paul let a hopeful shot go from 30-yards. Canada keeper Lars Hirschfeld was a little unsighted. By the seventh minute, St. Lucia had equalized. It was a nightmare Canada wanted to avoid. The longer a clearly inferior team is left in the game, the more pressure mounts on the favourite and things go wrong.

Canada needed a break and they got it when an attempted cross by Ante Jazic was handled by Williams Pernal in the box.

DeRosario stepped up and put away the penalty kick in the 50th minute. That gave Canada the momentum they never relinquished.

For now though, a win is a win while Hart looks for something better when they play Puerto Rico away on Tuesday.


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