Canada and Panama advance to the final phase of the Concacaf Nations League

March 28 (Reuters) – The Canadian and Panamanian soccer teams advanced to the semifinals of the Concacaf Nations League on Tuesday after beating Honduras and Costa Rica, respectively, in the final group stage of the tournament.

Canada thrashed Honduras 4-1 at home with a double by Cyle Larin, while Panama won 1-0 in their visit to the “tico” team with a goal by José Fajardo.

In this way, Canada and Panama joined Mexico and the United States in the final phase of the Champions League. In the semifinals, to be played on June 15 at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, Canada will face Panama and Mexico will face the United States.

“I think this group can win it, they have shown a level of performance that should give us hope and confidence that we can win the Nations League,” Canada head coach John Herdman said.

On the last day of Group C, Canada took advantage of their local status at Toronto’s BMO Field to clearly beat Honduras. Larin scored his first goal after nine minutes when he finished from the right after a wall play with Jonathan Osorio inside the box.

The Canadian striker scored his double after 12 minutes with a header from Stephen Eustaquio’s cross from the left sector.

Larin had the chance to score his third goal in the 42nd minute with a penalty, but the Real Valladolid striker from Spain sent his shot past the left post.

Jonathan David scored the third goal after 49 minutes when he defined with his left foot inside the area after a weak defensive rebound from Óscar Almendárez Martínez.

Honduras pulled back in the 73rd minute when Jorge Benguché headed in a corner kick from the right wing.

Canada responded and scored the fourth goal in the 86th minute through Osorio, who scored before goalkeeper Luis “Buba” López left after receiving a pass from Ayo Akinola.

Canada finished the group stage with a sector-leading nine points, followed by Honduras with six and Curaçao with three.

For its part, Panama, which only needed a tie to advance to the next stage, won their visit to Costa Rica thanks to the goal scored by Fajardo after 76 minutes of the game played at the National Stadium in San José when he finished off He volleyed a cross sent by Edgar Barcenas from the right sector into the small area.

Near the end, Fajardo was sent off for fouling Anthony Contreras in the 87th minute.

When the referee decreed the end of the game, the Panamanians celebrated while the Costa Rican fans shouted “Fuera Suárez” in reference to the Colombian technical director Luis Fernando Suárez contracted by the Costa Rican federation until 2026.

“We’re very hurt, it wasn’t a bad game, but we didn’t have that much depth. We had the ball, we occupied spaces and tried to create, although without finishing the plays,” said local defender Francisco Calvo.

The Panamanian team recorded 10 points in first place in Group B, completed by Costa Rica with six points and Martinique with one.

Despite their defeats, Honduras and Costa Rica secured their place in the Gold Cup, a tournament to which the winners and second places from the four groups of League A qualified. The teams from Mexico, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, Canada, Honduras, the United States and El Salvador will be in the tournament that will be played between June 16 and July 16.

The first places in each group of League B, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Guatemala, also qualified directly for the Gold Cup.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa and Álvaro Murillo in San José. Editing by Carlos Calvo Pacheco)