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Canada ended their CONCACAF FIFA World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) campaign by losing 1-0 against Panama – only their second H2H defeat in 12 matches – whilst suffering their second loss in three matches, since previously going unbeaten.

The hosts seemingly saw Tajon Buchanan as the biggest threat, paying particularly close attention to the winger with Eric Davis receiving the game’s first booking for swiping his legs. ‘Los Canaleros’ had the best of the early openings as Gabriel Torres did well to meet José Luis Rodríguez’s cross but couldn’t find the target with his header, before they failed to capitalise on Ismaël Koné’s loose pass on the edge of the ‘Canucks’ box. It momentarily seemed as though Canada had released Jonathan David just before the half-hour mark, but debutant José Córdoba tracked the striker’s run superbly and stole the ball from him.

The visitors looked more dangerous by HT, though Samuel Adekugbe fired over when Buchanan won a free kick. Panama also looked close to creating an opening until Alistair Johnston recovered well to deny them. There was nothing that could be done when the teams re-emerged from the break, though, as Torres peeled off Kamal Miller to clinically convert Rodríguez’s cross for the opener. Cecilio Waterman soon came close to doubling Panama’s lead with a first-time effort from outside the box that sailed marginally too high.

Cyle Larin was introduced around the hour mark and instantly teed up David for a golden opportunity. Uncharacteristically, the Lille striker hit his first attempt straight at Luis Mejía and poked the rebound wide. The ‘Canucks’ were visibly frustrated in the final stages as the hosts broke up play, while Édgar Bárcenas’ free-kick forced a tremendous save from Maxime Crépeau. That feeling was further compounded when Larin’s header in the 81st minute was ruled out following a VAR check – a member of Panama’s coaching team was sent off in the aftermath.

The defeat will be seen as an anticlimactic end to an incredible WCQ campaign that resulted in Canada reaching the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986, but they have still secured top spot. Meanwhile, Panama will be pleased to have ended a run of three matches without victory.

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