GUATEMALA CITY - Guatemala defeated the United States 2-1 to qualify for the FIFA Futsal World Cup and claim a place in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship.
The result presented multiple implications.It gave Guatemala the Group A title with a perfect nine points from three games, eliminated the Americans, and ensured that Panama - which defeated Canada 8-5 earlier in the evening to reach the six-point mark - qualified for the World Cup and progressed in the confederation event.
Alan Aguilar's goal in the 34th minute broke a 1-1 stalemate and proved to be the catalyst that extended Guatemala's unbeaten streak in the competition to eight-consecutive games.
The encounter, played before a partisan crowd at the Domo Polideportivo, was a tight affair.Guatemala only needed a draw to move on, but the U.S. had to win.
The defending champion took a 4th minute lead off a beautifully crafted sequence that concluded with Rafael Gonzalez's remarkable spinning flick, which eluded U.S. goalkeeper Danny Waltman.
Matthew Stewart used his experience to equalize six minutes later, knocking in a rebound off a shot from Bato Radoncic that crashed off the left post.
After the interval, both sides had opportunities to score, but tight defenses and good goalkeeping governed play.
Patience was the order of the day and it paid dividends for Guatemala in the 34th minute.Tidy passing from the Chapines resulted in a shot that was initially saved by Waltman.The ball became loose and a grateful Aguilar slammed it home to send the home supporters into an unbridled celebration.
In the semifinals on Friday, Guatemala will face Group B runner-up Mexico and Group B winner Costa Rica will meet Panama.
Panama 8, Canada 5
Oscar Hinks scored three goals and Panama defeated Canada 8-5 on Wednesday to keep its hope of earning a place at the FIFA Futsal World Cup alive. The action-packed encounter was the highest-scoring game of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship thus far.
The victory leaves the Canaleros with six points from three Group A games, forcing them to wait on the outcome of the Guatemala-United States encounter, which will be played later this evening.A win by the U.S. would leave all three teams even atop the group standings, while Canada is no longer in contention.
Hinks got the ball rolling for Panama in the 2nd minute, calmly finishing a well-timed pass from Alquis Alvarado.
The Maple Leafs responded with a pair of rapid goals in the 7th and 8th minutes by Steve De Blasio to take a 2-1 lead.
Five minutes later, Panama equalized, taking advantage of a Canadian turnover at midcourt. Alvarado transitioned quickly from defense to offense and found Miguel Lasso, who hit the target..
In the 18th minute, Hinks gave Panama a lead it would never relinquish.The 26-year-old attempted what appeared to be a tame shot. The effort spun up on Canadian goalkeeper Joshua Lemos and popped in the air. As he was falling backwards, Lemos could only swat at the ball with a faint touch before it crossed the line.
Lasso netted his second goal of the night and sixth of the tournament in the 20th minute.
Seconds later, Claudio Goodridge took advantage of a straying Lemos and rolled a shot from midcourt into the net.
With the final kick of the half, Matthew Rios gave Canada new life, converting a penalty kick.
Two minutes after the interval, Rios scored again to cut Panama's lead to 5-4.
Panama would then go on a tear, scoring three straight goals.Carlos Perez netted a brace in the 26th and 36th minutes, only interrupted by a third for Hinks in the 33rd.
Alvaro Yaques added a consolation for the North Americans with two minutes left on the clock.