MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Romillio Hernandez scored dramatically in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to lift El Salvador to a 3-2 win over Canada in Group B of the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship at Montego Bay Sports Complex on Thursday afternoon.
Salvadoran defender Edwin Cuellar latched onto a driven free kick and his attempt from the edge of the six-yard box was saved by goalkeeper Nolan Wirth. The ball deflected off Canadian midfielder Cyle Larin’s chest and Hernandez pounced to net in the winner.
Bryan Perez gave the Central Americans the lead two minutes before halftime, when the Luis Angel Firpo forward won a footrace for the ball with defender Alexander Comsia and tapped over an onrushing Wirth for his first goal of the tournament.
The tally came five minutes after Wirth made a lunging save to deny midfielder Alvaro Guardado from 22 yards.
Canada leveled two minutes into the second half. Substitute Hanson Boakai made a run just inside the 18-yard box and fired a left-footed bullet over goalkeeper Carlos Cañas.
The FC Edmonton midfielder went for a second goal in the 63rd minute with a similar move, but fired wide of the net from 24-yards out.
Jose Villavicencio continued his tear through the tournament, scoring his third goal in as many matches in the 77th minute, giving El Salvador a 2-1 lead on a long distance blast.
Canada’s response came just two minutes later as Kianz Froese, after taking a pass from Boakai, put a low shot past Cañas from 18 yards.
Play was stretched in the final 10 minutes with both teams throwing caution to the wind with hopes of breaking the stalemate.
El Salvador nearly took the stoppage time lead only for Wirth to parr away a well-struck shot by Villavicencio from the top of the 18-yard box. The rebound fell to Eduardo Merino, but the Atletico Marte midfielder received the ball in an offside position.
Both teams resume group play on Monday with Canada (1-0-2, 3 points) facing Cuba and El Salvador (1-2-0, 5 points) taking on group-leading Mexico. Those matches will also be played at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.