MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Franklin Garcia scored two goals and Guatemala defeated Nicaragua, 3-0, Saturday in the opener of a two-leg Central American Football Union playoff for a place at the 2011 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship.
Both teams were forced into the series after finishing last in their respective groups during qualifying play.
In a game played at Estadio Nacional Futbol de Managua, the visitors went ahead in the 24th minute through the active Albert Barrientos.
Nicaragua slowly settled down and started to piece together some fluid play. A header from Carlos Chavarria later in the half required Guatemalan Johnny Navarro goalkeeper to make an outstanding save.
After the interval, Guatemala seized control of play with Garcia making his presence evident.
The 16-year-old midfielder struck for his first goal in 61st minute with a shot from 20-yards out.
Sixteen minutes later, he made it 3-0, when his free-kick from just outside the penalty area beat goalkeeper Edwin Mendez.
Guatemala ended the game with 10 players following the 82nd minute ejection of Luis Ruiz.
The second leg will be played next Friday at Guatemala City' Estadio Mateo Flores.
The series winner advances to the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship February in Jamaica. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama have previously qualified for the competition from Central America.