GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- On the strength of Elroy Kuylen’s expertly taken first-half free kick, visiting Belize advanced to the second round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup thanks to a 1-1 draw with the Cayman Islands at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Sunday.
The Belizeans captured the series on the away-goals rule after a scoreless draw between the sides in the series opener on March 25.
Striker Mark Ebanks shook off a groin strain and gave the host a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute. Unmarked at the back post, the 24-year-old powered home a cross from the right side for his third career qualifying goal.
Belize slowly gained its composure on the wet pitch and leveled in the 20th minute.
After Cayman was whistled for committing a foul near its own box, Kuylen stepped up to take the subsequent free kick, curling it over a five-man wall and dipping it to the right of goalkeeper Ramon Sealy.
Late in the encounter, Ebanks thought he netted the game-winner, only for the strike to be disallowed due to an infringement.
Belize will face the Dominican Republic in a two-legged, second-round series in June.