Canada took another step towards booking its place at the 2022 World Cup after beating Mexico 2-1 in near freezing conditions.
A brace from Cyle Larin ensured the hosts recorded their first win over Mexico in over 20 years, a victory that shot Canada to the top of the CONCACAF qualifying table.
Canada has not played in a men’s World Cup since 1986 but is so far unbeaten in the final qualification stages – four wins and four draws – with just six games to go.
“Amazing night. Atmosphere in the stadium was electric and the boys went out there and played our hearts out,” said Canada’s Atiba Hutchinson, who broke the Canucks’ men’s all-time appearance record after making his 90th cap.
“We left everything on the pitch. We knew how important this match was and we wanted to go out there and make a statement.
“The work ethic that we’ve been putting in, it’s something special. I haven’t seen anything like this.”
‘We’ve all grown up in this weather’
Only three teams automatically qualify for the World Cup out of the CONCACAF region with the fourth-placed team entering into a playoff.
Canada currently sits one point clear of the US with Mexico and Panama just two points behind.
But spirit in the Canadian camp is high, as seen when players celebrated their second goal by jumping into the snow piled up at the side of the pitch.
“The fans came out for us today and supported us in the cold. We’ve all grown up in this weather, so we’re used to it,” Larin said after the match.
In truth, Mexico could and maybe should have spoiled the party in Edmonton.
Hector Herrera cut the deficit in half in the 90th minute before Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan pulled off a crucial save to prevent the visitors from bundling the ball over the line with just seconds left on the clock.
Canada’s next qualifying match is against Honduras on January 27, 2022, before it hosts the US three days later.