It took a pair of second-half goals for Canada to overcome a scrappy Guadeloupe side on Monday night in the opening match of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Guatemala.
The Canadians had gone down 1-0 in the opening half, but goals by Lucas Cavallani and Derrick Bassi (above, No. 5) lifted the Canucks to a 2-1 victory.
Canada struggled with the physicality and athleticism of the Guadeloupe side for much of the first half, frequently getting pushed off the ball and allowing their opponents' speed to cause problems. The Canadians paid the price 26 minutes in, when a Guadeloupe counterattack resulted in a goal for the island nation.
[inline_node:332304]A well-placed shot by Christophe Houelche from 22 yards put Canada behind, and gave the Guadeloupians the confidence to attack and keep the Canadians on the back foot for large spells.
Canada came back from the halftime break with much more purpose, sparked by the midfield tandem of Russell Teibert and captain Ethan Gage. Teibert, of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, proved to be a serious handful for the Guadeloupians all night long, and in the 53rd minute he pounced on a botched clearance and sent in a pass to Cavallani, who easily slotted home from the top of the six-yard box.
Five minutes later, Teibert again played provider. On a set-piece just outside the Guadeloupe penalty area, the 18-year-old Whitecaps rookie stepped up and delivered a pinpoint free kick onto the head of central defender Bassi, who simply nodded the ball into the goal.
The two quick goals deflated the Guadeloupians, and Canada seemed content to hold possession for the rest of the match.
With the win, Canada take control of Group C. Guadeloupe take on Costa Rica on Wednesday, with the Canadians next seeing action against the Ticos on Friday.