MIAMI, Florida – Matchday three in the first round of 2019/20 Concacaf Nations League Qualifying had its fair share of twists and turns, with Nicaragua and Cuba pacing themselves to clean sheet victories, while El Salvador had to rally to top Montserrat.
The day started with Nicaragua posting a 2-0 victory at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Henry Nino gave the Pinoleros a 1-0 lead in the 26’ by poking in a loose ball in the box, and then 13 minutes later Juan Barrera doubled the margin to 2-0 with a slick re-direct into net off a cross from the right.
From there the Nicaragua defense took over and shut down the hosts to pocket the three points.
Next on the docket was Cuba hosting a Turks and Caicos Islands side without star player Billy Forbes, and the Cubans took full advantage by registering an 11-0 win over the islanders.
Luis Javier Paradela Diaz (7’, 36’, 49’) had a hat trick, while Luismel Morris Calero (32’, 82’), Andy Baquero Ruiz (35’, 44’), Yordan Eduardo Santa Cruz Vera (51’, 54’) and Roberney Caballero Ariosa (64’, 76’) all bagged braces in the win.
The day then wrapped up with plenty of drama, as El Salvador fought back to pocket a 2-1 away win against a very spirited Montserrat side.
The Montserrat supporters erupted in cheers in the 38’ thanks to Joseph Terence Taylor’s opener. Spencer James Weir Daley had a header ring off the crossbar and the ball eventually found Taylor, who fired in to make it 1-0 to the Caribbean side.
The urgency inside El Salvador grew and Oscar Ceren did very well to create space for himself after collecting a pass and then rocketed in a shot to pull the Cuscatlecos level 1-1 in the 64’.
Just when it looked like the two teams would have to settle for a 1-1 draw, the visitors broke the hearts of the home fans when Ceren powered home a header in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time to earn El Salvador the heart-stopping victory.