Tajon Buchanan struck twice in the opening half for Canada. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Canada recorded a 2-0 victory over El Salvador in its first Group B match of the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship at Estadio Jalisco Friday night.
Winger Tajon Buchanan scored both goals, becoming the 12th Canadian Under-23 player to register a brace in men’s Olympic Qualifying and the first since Tosaint Ricketts back in 2008.
“I know it was difficult, we did what we had to do, we got the win,” Canada head coach Mauro Biello said. “It’s all about growing throughout this tournament. This team has come together in a short window, to come out here and work the way they did, I think they get that identity and work for each other. I’m proud of them, they got the goals, we didn’t give much, and we grow from here. It’s all about growing.”
The win put the Canadians in second place and solid position to qualify for the semifinals. Honduras, which defeated an undermanned Haiti side, 3-0, in the opening match of the doubleheader, was in first place by goal differential.
Canada will face Haiti Tuesday followed by the group finale on Thursday.
— Concacaf (@Concacaf) March 20, 2021
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring in the 17th minute on Buchanan’s first goal after a through ball from Ballou Tabla. Running into the box, Buchanan cut to the outside past his defender and fired his low, left-footed shot past goalkeeper Mario González.
Five minutes later, Buchanan struck again, this time with a right-footed shot from outside the box after Derek Cornelius played it back to him.
After the Buchanan 2-0 goal, Canada nearly made it 3-0 ten minutes later when Aidan Daniels hit the crossbar. Late in the first half, El Salvador had two dangerous free kicks. However, Enrico Dueñas, with the right foot, and then Joshua Perez, with the left foot, hit their chances wide.
“I think it was a good performance. Obviously, it was the first game for a lot of guys in a while in tough conditions,” Buchanan said. “The first game is always the toughest, but the guys stuck through it and battled all game and I’m extremely happy and proud of everyone and happy we came away with the three points. I was just happy that I was able to help the team today and get two goals. That first game is always the most important game to get the team going and to get three points in tough conditions is huge for us.”