Canada avoided a meltdown of epic proportions on Friday night, holding off a French Guiana rally and winning, 4-2, in a rainy tournament opener at Red Bull Arena. The Canadians looked to be on the brink of letting a three-goal lead slip away in the Group A match, but Vancouver Whitecaps youngster Alphonso Davies' second goal of the game in the 85th minute put the affair on ice.
As rain began to come down in buckets on the field midway through the second half, French Guiana started to mount their comeback. They scored two goals seconds apart in the 69th and 70th minutes, but Davies made sure that was as close as the group underdogs got.
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- 28' – CAN – Dejan Jakovic (WATCH)
- 45+2' – CAN – Scott Arfield (WATCH)
- 60' – CAN – Alphonso Davies (WATCH)
- 69' – GYF – Roy Contout
- 70' – GYF – Sloan Privat
- 85' – CAN – Alphonso Davies
- CONCACAF Man of the Match: Alphonso Davies
Canada (4-2-3-1, left to right): #18 Milan Borjan (64' #1 Maxime Crepeau) – #17 Marcel de Jong, #19 Steven Vitoria, #5 Dejan Jakovic, #23 Michael Petrasso – #8 Scott Arfield, #6 Samuel Piette – #12 Alphonso Davies, #20 Patrice Bernier (66' #7 Russell Teibert), #10 David Junior Hoilett – #9 Lucas Cavallini (83' #16 Anthony Jackson-Hamel)
French Guiana (4-2-3-1, left to right): #22 Donovan Leon – #8 Jean-David Legrand, #5 Cedric Fabien, #14 Gregory Lescot, #7 Anthony Soubervie – #10 Loic Baal, #6 Kevin Rimane – #21 Shaquille Dutard (64' #9 Arnold Abelenti), #4 Rhudy Evens (89' #13 Miguel Haabo), #11 Roy Contout – #18 Sloan Privat
- YOUNG AND FREE: Make no mistake about it. Alphonso Davies was the hero in this one. Just when it looked like Canada were about to collapse, Davies came through with a slotted finish that ensured his nation of the three points. Davies scored on another calm and cool effort at the hour-mark to become Canada's youngest goal-scorer, but his overall showing on the night was impressive. The 16-year-old midfielder grew in confidence as the game wore on, and showed poise in helping Canada avoid a catastrophe.
- REASON FOR CONCERN: While the Canadians should enjoy this victory, they should also be worried about what transpired midway through the second half. The game appeared to be fully in their control, but then they surrendered two goals in a matter of a minute to give French Guiana new life. Costa Rica and Honduras should prove tougher tests, and Canada need to be sharp and focused for the full 90 minutes if they wish to have a shot at prevailing in those upcoming matches.
- NEVER GAVE UP: French Guiana, who did not use Florent Malouda as he was listed as not eligible, could have easily packed it in after going down by three goals. They stuck together, however, and came close to pulling even with Canada. Moral victories might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but this performance should give them some confidence and belief as they head into their other group games.
- GYF: Tuesday, July 11 – vs. Honduras (10 pm ET | FS1 & UniMas; TSN1)
- CAN: Tuesday, July 11 – vs. Costa Rica (7:30 pm ET | FS1 & UniMas; TSN1)