Larin’s 2 goals lift Canada to a 2-1 victory over Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in Edmonton

A record night of Cyle Larin not only propelled Canada to a 2-1 victory over Mexico on Tuesday at Commonwealth Stadium, but put the Canadians at the top of their CONCACAF World Cup group.

That’s right. As the eight remaining teams in CONCACAF each have completed the eighth of their 14-match schedules in the Octagon, Canada (4-0-4), a country that has not been to a World Cup since 1986, are tops. Point up on the Americans. Two points up on the Mexicans and Panamanians. The top three qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the four-place team gets a final shot to qualify for an intercontinental final.

Larin’s two-goal performance gave him a total of 22 for the national side, tying Dwayne De Rosario as the top Canadian men’s top scorer in history.

Canadian players celebrate goal against Mexico during World Cup Qualifiers in Edmonton, Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jason Franson

Just before the end of the first half, a jump shot by Canadian defender Alistair Johnston could only be paraded by Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa. The ball fell straight into Larin’s path, who did not err.

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Johnston’s shot seemed to accelerate after it took a wicked leap on the artificial turf, impacting a slippery, cold ball on a hardened playing surface. According to Environment Canada, the game time temperature was at -9 C, with a wind chill of -14 C. If there was a moment that justified Canada Soccer’s decision to stage this game in Edmonton on a November night, it was.

Larin struck again seven minutes into the second half as he sidestepped home an inch-perfect cross from Stephen Eustaquio, leaving Ochoa swinging on the goal line.

The Mexicans made it close with an 89th-minute goal from the head of substitute Henry Martin.

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And then, in five minutes of added time, they came at the Canadians in waves, forcing “guard Milan Borjan to two goal line saves”.

Larin’s opener scored what was a chipy first half for both teams. Immediately after the initial kickoff, a Canadian defender flattened Mexican star winger Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar ruled it a legal challenge, but Lozano was down on the territory for several minutes.

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The game then turned into a maelstrom of fouls – a total of 23 in the first half, with 13 of them called on the Mexicans.

Escobar also showed yellow cards to the benches of both teams in the top 45.

But the Mexicans were held to zero attempts at goal. Only the fading moments of the team, down two goals, the visitors came to life.

By the end of the match, the foul count was 21-16, Mexico.

READ MORE: Canada wins 1-0 against Costa Rica in the World Cup qualifier at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium

On a night when Larin was in the spotlight, Atiba Hutchinson started the game for Canada – winning his 90th cap for his country. He overtook Julian de Guzman as the most-hatted male player in Canadian football history.

The crowd was announced at 44,212 _ despite Canada Soccer announcing Monday that more than 50,000 tickets had been sold. But Edmonton was hit by heavy snow on Monday and through the day on Tuesday, leading to no-shows. A total of 48,806 appeared for Friday’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica, in a quiet 1C evening.

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Crews worked furiously before the game, repainting the field lines and shoveling snow that had accumulated near the pitch.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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