Joevin Jones and Carlos Ruiz scored twice for their respective sides as Trinidad & Tobago advanced to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, while 10-man Guatemala kept faint hope alive in a dramatic 2-2 draw on Friday.
Had Jones completed the hat-trick, it would’ve sealed victory for the Soca Warriors (3W-2D-0L, 11 points) and eliminated the visiting Guatemalans (2-1-2, 7).
Instead, Ruiz pounced upon a rebound of Marco Pappa’s dipping effort to score his second goal of the evening and his third of the Russia 2018 campaign.
Guatemala still has a lot of work to do on the final day of Group C play Tuesday to have any hope of advancing. It has to defeat visiting St. Vincent & the Grenadines, while Trinidad & Tobago must beat the host United States (3-1-1, 10). Then goal difference will come into play with the U.S. currently holding a sizeable +13 to +1 advantage.
T&T can capture the group with a win or a draw.
After a promising opening for the Central Americans, Ruiz put Guatemala ahead in the 36th minute.
Jimenez provided the service, latching onto a pass down the right and sending in a first-time cross that skidded across a wet field and toward the back post. Ruiz slid to redirect it home from close range.
The Soca Warriors responded with more offensive pressure, twice coming close to scoring before Jones leveled things in first-half stoppage time.
On an odd-man break, Daneil Cyrus whipped in a cross from the right. Jones held his run to stay onside and met the service 10 yards from goal, where he sent a low finish between the legs of charging goalkeeper Paolo Motta.
Jones gave T&T the lead in the 62nd minute, getting free on the left side of the penalty area and cutting back to elude Jimenez, before poking a left-footed effort beyond Motta’s dive.
Four minutes later, T&T goalkeeper Marvin Phillips made a pair of acrobatic saves to keep his side in the lead. But 20 minutes after that, his failure to corral Pappa’s initial shot from near the edge of the penalty area gave Ruiz the room he needed for his second.
Trinidad and Tobago 2 v Guatemala 2
J.Jones 45 C.Ruiz 35
J.Jones 62 C.Ruiz 85
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Marvin Phillip; 5.Daneil Cyrus, 4.Sheldon Bateau (Yellow 89), 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 17.Mekeil Williams (Yellow 12); 14.Andre Boucaud (19.Kevan George 66th), 8.Khaleem Hyland, 13.Cordell Cato, 10.Kevin Molino (16.Levi Garcia 68th), 3.Joevin Jones, 9.Kenwyne Jones (capt) (20.Trevin Caesar 85th).
Unused substitutes: 21.Adrian Foncette (GK), 22.Gregory Ranjitsingh (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 7.Hughtun Hector, 11.Shahdon Winchester, 15.Neveal Hackshaw, 18.Yohance Marshall, 23.Jomal Williams.
Coach: Stephen Hart.
Guatemala: 12.Paula Motta; 3.Christian Jimenez (Red 84), 4.Hamilton Lopez (Yellow 89), 5.Jefrey Payeras, 14.Rafael Morales (Yellow 73) (11.Victor Matta 81st); 22.Rodrigo Saravia, 8.Jean Marquez, 16.Marco Papa, 10.Jose Contreras (19.Jose Rosales 80th), 20.Carlos Ruiz (capt), 9.Gerson Tinoco (18.Mario Castellanos 76th).
Unused substitutes: 1.Ricardo Jerez (GK), 21.Jose Garcia (GK), 2.Wilson Lalin, 6.Carlos Mejia, 7.Jairo Arreola, 13.Eddy Aragon, 15.Luis Cardona, 17.Edi Guerra, 23.Jorge Aparicio.
Coach: Walter Claveri.
Referee: John Pitti (Panama).
Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium.
T&T advances to CONCACAF Final Round.
Joevin Jones’ double led Trinidad and Tobago to a 2-2 draw with Guatemala in their penultimate 2018 Concacaf World Cup Group C Semifinal Round qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, last night to advance to the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
With USA hammering St Vincent and The Grenadines 6-0 in Arnos Vale earlier yesterday to join the Stephen Hart-coached T&T at the top of the table with ten points, but from a match more, the Kenwyne Jones local squad backed by a sea of red clad supporters only needed a draw against the Central Americans to advance, while the visitors needed nothing less than victory.
However, apart from an early chance for Cordell Cato, inside the first minute but his shot went over bar.
First T&T goalkeeper Marvin Phillip was forced to tip over a fierce left footed free-kick from Jean Marquez in the 13th minute after 36-year-old Carlos Ruiz won a free-kick and then in the 25th minute Phillip had to tip over a dipping long range effort from Marco Papa, after a weak headed clearance by captain Jones.
Guatemala continued to press for the go ahead goal, firing just wide of the mark from a free-kick, Ruiz turned up at the far post to slide in the go-ahead goal from a right sided cross by Papa.
T&T almost responded immediately by captain Jones header from a Cordell Cato right sided chip pass was directed straight at goalkeeper Jose Garcia.
However, on the stroke of half-time, Jones started a counter-attack and unleashed defender Daneil Cyrus, free down the right flank, who then centred for an onrushing Jones to slot home through the legs of the goalkeeper for a 1-1 half-time score.
On the resumption, T&T started much better with both Jones’ combining, before the out-of-sorts Sounders wingman put T&T ahead 2-1 with a gem of a strike with the outside of his favoured left boot into the far corner in the 62nd for a clever go ahead item.
T&T began to take control and Jones (K) went near from close up while Levi Garcia also had his effort saved on the near post. Guatemala finished the game with ten players but caused some anxious moments in the closing stages after Ruiz tied the scores with a rebound after Phillip failed to hold an initial effort.
The “Warriors” held on to deservedly advance to the “Hex” and will complete the semi-final round against the US on Tuesday at 8pm in Jacksonville.
Post Match Comments
“It was a bittersweet moment. Overall, I thought we played with a lot of nerves. I thought we were sloppy, it’s almost like we didn’t want the ball and we didn’t move it effectively. I thought the way we opened the game was extremely positive, we moved the ball very well. We got into two very good positions and we sort of failed to take the opportunity.
“After that point the game was fairly evenly balanced and then Guatemala scored a goal on the back post which I was a little bit disappointed in. Because most of what we worked on as a team was the sort of runs they made coming in on the back post and us being aware of it.
“But in the end I am satisfied that we completed the task of getting into the Hex which was the main objective and now we will look towards what will be our first warm up game for the Hex against the United States on Tuesday.”
“I didn’t score so I’m not going to be satisfied. At the end of the day I’m satisfied that we got into the hex. The most important thing about tonight was getting that result and going to the next stage.
“I think coming up to the occasion knowing that we needed a point maybe played a part in our minds that we needed to do just enough. It’s not something that we should make a habit of really.
“There’s an old saying, if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it. The team itself, I don’t want to say we are set up to play a certain way, but we play a certain type of football. And I don’t think that trying to change certain things going forward is going to make a massive difference.
“Being able to be at the top of that focal point to bring my other teammates in is fantastic to me. At the end of the day, every game I’m playing I will be the main focus because of my profile and I have no problem with that because it frees up other people in the team to be able to express themselves and get the job done.”