Alphonso Davies’ highlight-reel goal helped open the floodgates as Canada roared to a 4-1 victory over Panama on Wednesday in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying play.
The Canadian men had Panama in a difficult spot but didn’t pull ahead until the 66th minute when the 20-year-old Bayern Munich star came out of nowhere down the right flank to pilfer the ball from under the feet of defender Harold Cummings, who thought the ball was about to go out.
Davies got to the ball before it did, danced around defender Fidel Escobar and — using Jonathan David as a decoy — fired a low shot that left goalkeeper Luis Mejia rooted to the spot for a 2-1 lead. It was Davies’ 10th goal in his 28th match for Canada.
The Canadians, still unbeaten at 2-0-4, turned on the offence after the goal.
WATCH | Davies’ unassisted gem inspires Canada past Panama:
Tajon Buchanan made it 3-1 in the 71st, heading home a Richie Laryea cross for his third goal for Canada. David then scored in the 78th minute, slotting the ball home on a counter-attack off a feed from Davies with the Panama defence in disarray. It was the 17th goal in 22 internationals for the Lille striker.
Davies left in the 81st minute to a standing ovation. A Panama goal in the 85th was waved off for offside.
BMO Field was at full capacity, with announced attendance of 26,622 after local authorities eased pandemic-related restrictions. The south stand was a sea of red, filled with waving flags.
They got to see a full-blooded game played at breakneck pace. A rampant Canada dictated almost all of the tempo with Davies, playing up front with David, directing the attack. Davies was electric, tormenting defenders.
While Panama (2-2-2) was hanging on by a thread through much of the match, the visitors opened the scoring.
After falling behind to a Rolando Blackburn goal in the fifth minute, Canada regrouped and attacked with verve. The veteran Panama side showed its composure and resolve in withstanding the onslaught but the Canadians kept coming and tied it up in the 28th minute on a Michael Murillo own goal.
Benches clear before halftime
The benches emptied near the stroke of halftime after a melee as Panama delayed taking a corner. The Canadian substitutes were warming up in the vicinity and took umbrage at Panama’s tactics, leading to a scrum that eventually dissipated after some shoving and yelling.
WATCH | Tempers flare as benches clear before halftime of qualifier:
The Canadians have now taken seven of a possible nine points at home. And they’ve done the job on the road, picking up points through draws in the U.S., Mexico and Jamaica.
Canada’s next two matches are also at home, against Costa Rica on Nov. 12 and Mexico on Nov. 16, both at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.
Wednesday’s game was the third of an international window that saw the Canadians draw 1-1 in Mexico and 0-0 in Jamaica.
Canada was without the injured Atiba Hutchinson, forwards Cyle Larin, Lucas Cavallini and Junior Hoilett. Goalkeeper Milan Borjan is recovering from COVID-19.
In other matches Wednesday, the 13th-ranked U.S. (3-1-2) rallied for a 2-1 win over No. 44 Costa Rica (1-2-3) in Columbus, Ohio. In later games, No. 59 Jamaica (0-3-2) played at No. 63 Honduras (0-2-3) and No. 9 Mexico (3-0-2) played at No. 65 El Salvador (1-2-2).
Come March, the top three teams in the eight-team CONCACAF round-robin book their tickets to Qatar 2022. The fourth-place team will take part in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.
WATCH | Previewing Canada’s pivotal World Cup qualifier vs. Panama: