Roundup: Playoffs ahead for T&T

even if they drew and Guatemala won, so the two finished level on points, Guatemala had the better goal difference -- the Soca Warriors were under immense pressure from the start as the news began to filter through from Guatemala City, as the matches kicked off simultaneously.

After just 31 minutes, Guatemala held a three-goal lead against their fiercest rival. Starting out at full speed, Guatemala took the lead after just three minutes, Elmer Ponciano giving the chapines the opening goal from a wonderful pass from FC Dallas striker Carlos Ruiz.

The second goal was scored by Freddy Garcia, who beat goalkeeper Alvaro Mesen from long range in the 17th minute, then Ruiz scored the most spectacular goal of Guatemala's qualifying campaign when he hit home from outside the penalty area with a bicycle kick in the 31st minute.

Then the Estadio Mateo Flores burst into cheering again when they heard Corona had saved John's penalty in the 31st minute in Trinidad.

The Guatemalan dream continued just minutes later when Jaime Lozano scored for Mexico seven minutes later. He received a pass from Luis Ernesto Perez just outside the area on the left side and hit a perfect chip over T&T goalkeeper Kelvin Jack that settled just inside his left-hand post.

But soon it was the crowd at the Hasely Crawford Stadium that had something to cheer, as Trinidad & Tobago equalized just four minutes later. A long shot from outside the area rattled off the base of the post with Corona beaten, and though he appeared to be offside, John bashed home the rebound to tie the game.

That result wasn't yet enough to send T&T into the playoff, but John took care of that on the hour. Latching on to a deflection outside the area, John hammered a high drive to the right of Corona that sent the sea of red in the stands into wild celebration.

The Soca Warriors held out over the final half-hour without much difficulty and booked their ticket to the playoff against the Asian representative, which qualified on away goals after playing to a scoreless draw against Azerbaijan earlier Wednesday, the teams playing to a 1-1 draw in the replayed first leg.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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