Misfortune for Canada, relief for USA
© AFP

Group stage action came to a close at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the evening ending in heartbreak for Canada and triumph for USA in Kansas City. In the night’s first match, Canada’s last-eight hopes where brought to a suspenseful end after an injury-time goalmouth scramble saw Panama score an equaliser to secure them first-place in Group C. The United States then sent Livestrong Park into an early frenzy after a Jozy Altidore goal, and while the Americans failed to capitalise the rest of the match, the one-goal lead was enough to assure them of a second-place group finish.

Results
Group C
Canada 1–1 Panama
Guadeloupe 0–1 USA

The day replayed – With a quarter-finals berth on the line and only a win definitively ensuring their passage, Canada came out looking for an early lead against Panama. Within the first five minutes Canada had two chances go begging, including a superb Nik Ledgerwood volley that curled just wide of the Panamanian goal. After enduring the quick onslaught, Panama began to settle into the match and protect their group lead. With history favouring draws between the two sides, the deadlock appeared it would be tough to break going into half-time. After the restart Panama enjoyed better possession, but it was the Canucks who went ahead through captain Dwayne De Rosario from the spot. With time ticking, Canada scrapped to keep a pressuring Panama side at bay, but in-form Luis Tejada snuck in an extra-time effort, spoiling Canada’s last-eight chance.

USA, hoping to rebound from a cutting loss to Panama in their last outing, endured an early scare from a fearless Guadeloupe side. But it was the Americans who ignited the crowd at Livestrong Park within ten minutes of the games’ start as Jozy Altidore hit a fierce wonder-strike, in which goalkeeper Franck Grandel had no chance at. The goal sparked the Stars and Stripes into life, and while the Guadeloupians had a few chance encounters near Tim Howard’s net, the likes of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan kept Grandel and his defence hard at work. The United States were seemingly due for another goal throughout the match, but with glaring misses from both Donovan and Dempsey in the second half, a 1-0 victory would have to do.

The number
5 – The evening’s last-gasp draw between Canada and Panama was a result all too familiar for the Canucks, being their fifth draw in seven meetings with the Panamanians and one that would keep them out of Gold Cup quarter-finals.

Player of the day -
Luis Tejada (Panama)
Although Canada had majority possession and more chances in the evening’s first match, it was Tejada who again played a vital role for the Panamanians. The striker, who had scored Panama’s first goal against the United States on Saturday, entered the game as a substitute in the 71st minute. Staying true to form, the 29-year-old crept in his third goal of the tournament in the first minute of extra time, all but ending Stephen Hart’s sides' chance of progression.

Goal of the day -
Guadeloupe-USA, Jozy Altidore (9’)
While Guadeloupe saw an effort rattle off the bar within the first three minutes, the Americans were unwilling to be stunned yet again this tournament. Knowing a win or draw would advance them through to the quarter-finals, Altidore showed no hesitation when he hammered home a long-range screamer into the upper-right corner of Guadeloupe’s goal. The 21-year-old, who had scored in the United States’ opener against Canada, showed his prowess when he picked up the ball from Bradley above the arc and released a shot with such incredible pace, goalkeeper Grandel had no time to react.

Quote of the day -
"Jozy [Altidore] had a wonder-strike that gave us the lead and sometimes you need that. We couldn't quite get it against Panama, and it happens like this tonight. We still left ourselves open a little bit, and they have some athletic players. But we were happy with the start of our game and happy with the energy." Carlos Bocanegra, USA captain

Up Next
Group A and Group B second-place finishers Costa Rica and Honduras will get Gold Cup quarter-final action underway at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford on 18 June. Mexico, who exited the group stage with maximum points, will complete the day’s double-header against Guatemala.

Have your say
Who do you think will fare better in the quarter-finals the USA, who will face Jamaica, or Panama, who will meet El Salvador on Sunday?