Substitute goalkeeper Quillan Roberts scored a sensational equaliser for Canada against England in their second Group C contest in Pachuca. His thumping kick from well inside his own half was enough for a 2-2 draw and gives the North Americans their first point in the history of the tournament. It is also the first-ever goal scored by a net-minder in any 11-a-side FIFA competition.
Even starting with ace striker Hallam Hope on the substitutes’ bench, England began the brighter of the two sides, and a shot from Crewe Alexandra’s Nick Powell splattered off the post after only 11 minutes. The Canadians were without their outstanding No1 Maxime Crepeau, who injured his knee in a collision in the opener with Uruguay, and his stand-in between the posts, Roberts, was under heavy pressure in the early going. Ten minutes after their first chance, England’s Adam Morgan hit out on a rampaging run past his marker up the left, but he could only slam his effort into the wrong side of the netting.
The towering Matthew Regan’s header, just seconds later from a corner-kick, was pushed over the bar by Roberts, who was holding his own in his first start of Mexico 2011. The pressure began to mount on the North Americans midway through the first half, but they stood firm and didn’t allow the English, clearly the better team of the period, to get on the scoresheet.
The Europeans wasted no time getting on the board after the restart, however. Powell’s free-kick from the left curled through the penalty area and was flicked home by the head of Morgan to give them a 1-0 edge. Unfortunately, though, the Canadians wasted no time drawing level. Keven Aleman’s sizzling shot was blocked by Jordan Pickford, but Sadi Jalali raced through to slam home the rebound from close range in the 50th minute.
England coach John Peacock decided to push more into attack, withdrawing midfielder Powell for his club team-mate Max Clayton. But it was the Canadians who had the first chance after the switch, Aleman firing in another wicked shot that had Pickford scrambling in the 65th minute. The English manager then made one last adjustment, bringing in Blair Turgott, who fired home from just outside the box in the 77th minute.
But it wasn’t over yet, as stand-in Canadian goalkeeper Roberts’ boot up the field from well behind midfield took one bounce in the English area and flew over his opposite number into the back of the net in the 87th minute. The historic goal not only gives Canada their first point in a FIFA U-17 World Cup, but is also the first goal scored by a goalkeeper in any FIFA finals competition.
England now move on to Torreon, where they will take on Uruguay, who are through to the knockout rounds, on 25 June. Canada remain in Pachuca, where they will face Rwanda with hopes still alive of reaching the next round.