T&T advance to CONCACAF last six
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Trinidad and Tobago pulled off a dramatic 2-2 draw against Guatemala on Friday night to seal their place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Joevin Jones scored twice - first, to level the score, then, to give the Soca Warriors the lead as they advanced to the hexagonal stage at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Carlos Ruiz also scored twice to keep alive Guatemala's faint hope of advancing to the final around.
Ruiz put the visitors ahead in the 36th minute as they rode the waves of a promising start.
He slid to redirect a ball to the goal from close range after a cross from Cristi·n JimÈnez skidded across a wet field toward the back post.
T&T hit back by applying persistent offensive pressure, which almost materialised into goals on two occasions before Jones levelled the score in first-half stoppage time.
Jones delayed his run to remain onside long enough to pounce on a cross from Daniel Cyrus 10 yards out before rifling a low shot between the legs of an onrushing goalkeeper Paolo Motta.
Jones fired T&T into the lead in the 62nd minute, with a solo run on the left side of the penalty area to poke a left-footed effort beyond Motta's dive.
T&T goalkeeper Marvin Phillips did well to keep his side in the lead with a pair of acrobatic saves deep in the second half.
However, his failure to stop Marco Pappa's initial shot allowed Ruiz the necessary room to convert for the second time.
Jimenez was sent off in the dying stages of the regulation time for pulling down Jones on a clear goal-scoring opportunity, which deprived him of completing the hat-trick.
A victory for T&T would have eliminated the visiting Guatemalans, who play St.Vincent and, the Grenadines on Tuesday.
T&T, who need a win or a draw to capture their group, play United States on Tuesday.