Soca Warriors rally to clip Guatemala 3-2; Martinique, Panama also register pivotal victories in Group A

By Sports Desk October 14, 2023
Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala in action. Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala in action. Concacaf

League A of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League continued on Friday with Panama, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago all collecting pivotal wins.

Curacao vs. Panama

Things in Group A got started at the Ergilio Hato Stadium in Willemstad, Curacao where visitors Panama topped Curacao 2-1.

Panama is now in second place with seven points, while Curacao have officially been relegated to League B with their third defeat.

Edgar Barcenas of Panama opened the scoring in the 29th on a play that was crafted by midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla, who lofted an inch-perfect pass to the running Cristian Martinez and the cutback pass hit Barcenas in stride, making for an easy sweep into net.

Panama doubled their advantage in the second half in the 77th through Jose Rodriguez, who expertly headed in a cross from Barcenas.

Curacao would get on the scoreboard in the waning moments of second half stoppage time, with Rangelo Janga executing a tidy header of his own.

Martinique vs. El Salvador

Martinique made a strong move up the table thanks to a 1-0 victory over El Salvador at the Stade Municipal Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France.

Martinique now have six points and sit in third place, while El Salvador, by virtue of this, their third defeat, have officially been relegated to League B.

Just like they did in their Gold Cup group stage meeting over the summer, Martinique struck first in the first half and took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd.

It was a well-crafted goal from Les Matinino, who worked the ball up the field, switching sides before a cross from the right wing by Damien Dussaut hit the cutting Johnny Marajo, whose right-footed shot beat El Salvador goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez.

Martinique then had a great chance at doubling their lead in the 73rd when Brighton Labeau hauled in a pass deep in the area and used an exquisite first touch to have an open look at goal, only to see his shot sail wide.

El Salvador had one final chance in second stoppage time through Mayer Gil, but his shot rang off the post and rolled wide in front of goal, still three points were safe for Martinique.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Guatemala

The day in Group A then concluded with a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory for Trinidad and Tobago against Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

Trinidad and Tobago remain atop the group with nine points, while Guatemala remain in fourth place with four points.

It was a dream start for Guatemala, as Rubio Rubin struck for the opener in the 12th by touching home a shot right in front of goal off a pass from Nathaniel Mendez.

Guatemala doubled their lead in the 32nd when an initial attempt from Oscar Santis was blocked by a defender, but Santis’ follow-up attempt was smashed off the post and in for the goal.

But Trinidad and Tobago responded well and pulled back to within a goal at 2-1 in the 35th when Alvin Jones converted a penalty after Noah Powder had been fouled in the area.

Trinidad and Tobago kept the pressure on and were back on level terms in the 54th when a Neveal Hackshaw header was saved by Guatemala goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen, but Reon Moore was there to hammer home the rebound.

Play remained wide open going into the final half-hour, with Guatemala nearly retaking a lead in the 70th on a Jose Pinto header that hit the crossbar and dropped onto the goal-line before being cleared.

The final says, though, belonged to Trinidad and Tobago, as Nathaniel James, who came off the bench to score a late winner on matchday one against Curacao, did it again, this time firing in a free kick in the 89th to deliver the telling blow.

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