El Salvador booked a spot in the knockout round of the 2021 Gold Cup tournament after scoring on either side of the half to defeat Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 on Wednesday night at the Toyota Stadium, Dallas, Texas.
The result means that T&T who remains on one point after the two matches will need a huge victory against pointless Guatemala on Sunday at the Toyota Stadium. Then, hope for an emphatic El Salvador (6 points) win over Mexico (4 points).
The lost against the current group leaders El Salvador on Wednesday was the first taste of defeat for interim head coach Angus Eve in four matches. Eve started the game with six defenders and the same defensive 5-4-1 formation that he played against Mexico five days earlier.
Eve said after the match, “Disappointed in the result but a lot of encouragement in the performance of the team. Probably they (El Salvador) were a bit fresher than us. In the first half it showed and I thought it was a much-improved performance (by T&T) in the second half.” He added, “We deserved to get a little more out of the game but it augurs well for the work we have been doing in a very short space of time.”
The Soca Warriors were comfortable in sitting back and allowing their opponents to benefit from 65% of ball possession. However, unlike the Mexicans, the Central Americans broke through the red wall of Warriors defenders in the 30th minute.
T&T’s central defender, Jelani Peters attempted to intercept a pass intended for Jairo Henriquez but was beaten. That mishap allowed Henriquez to calmly turn and shoot a low ferocious strike in the far corner leaving goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup hopeless.
Eve’s tactical approach in the first-half was indeed debatable as his team performed better in the second-half with a more offensive approach inclusive of a re-arranged 4-3-3 formation. The introduction of pacey striker Reon Moore and Marcus Joseph for Peters and Duane Muckette added impetus to the attack that compensated for the tiring captain Kevin Molino.
The Soca Warriors had opportunities to equalize with the two likely chances falling to Joseph. However, the game was sealed when Walmer Martinez scored their second goal from close range after his initial shot was parried unto the post by Frenderup.