Canada did enough to advance to the fourth round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying, via a 1-1 draw with Belize on Tuesday.
After a 3-0 first-leg win on home soil, the Canadians’ aggregate buffer was never really under threat despite a promising showing from Jorge Nunez’s hosts at FFB Field in Belmopan.
Deon McCaulay was a lively threat for Belize, firing in the opener in the 25th minute, and having several chances to add to his tally.
However, Belize’s hopes of advancing – they needed to win by four goals to stay alive for Russia 2018 – were dented when Will Johnson powered home in the shadows of half-time.
First-leg hero Tosaint Ricketts, credited with a brace in Toronto, nearly added to his 14 international goals early on, but the striker would poke his header chance wide of the target.
After tucking home from a tight angle on the right side of the area, McCaulay was feeling confident – twice trying his luck from range in the first half, forcing a diving save from Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan with one of those.
But Belize would not even take their lead to the interval, as Johnson finished off what was equal parts clumsy defence and attack.
With a bevy of players inside the area, the ball was bundled out towards the ‘D’ at the top of the box – from which the Portland Timbers captain struck a fine finish into the bottom-left corner of the target, beyond Belize custodian Shane Orio.
After half-time, Belize continued to push despite their exit looming ominously, McCaulay again the main man for the home side.
McCaulay snuck in behind the Canada defence, and got to the ball before an onrushing Borjan – and his poke was almost past the keeper, who deflected the ball and cover came to clear the danger.
Borjan made another stunning point-blank save from a McAuley header in the dying seconds to keep the score level on the night.