Weakened Bermuda overrun
Canada 5 Bermuda 1
Bermuda endured a difficult start to their World Cup qualifying campaign after suffering a heavy defeat by Canada at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, tonight.
It was always expected to be an uphill struggle against a team ranked 96 places above them in the Fifa world rankings and so it proved for an understrength Bermuda side, who despite a spirited display had no answer for the dominant hosts throughout the match.
Besiktas striker Cyle Larin scored twice in the first half to put Canada firmly in the ascendancy at the interval, before Richie Laryea added a third just eight minutes after the restart.
Kane Crichlow gave Bermuda a glimmer of hope with a debut goal to reduce the deficit; however, there was to be no fairytale fightback as Canada added a further two goals courtesy of Larin, who completed his hat-trick, and 18-year-old debutant Theo Corbeanu to wrap up a convincing victory, in which Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies starred throughout.
Not taking Bermuda lightly, Canada named a strong starting XI made up of a host of European-based players with talisman Davies the standout inclusion on the left wing, with Junior Hoilett, of Cardiff City, on the opposite flank. Experienced Besiktas midfielder Atiba Hutchinson captained the side in the midfield pivot with club team-mate Larin leading the line.
In response, Bermuda opted for a line-up that had Roger Lee being used in the midfield, just as he was in the narrow 2-1 away defeat in Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League A in 2019.
There were also a number of surprise inclusions, none more so than a debut being handed to Hamilton Parish forward Jordan Outerbridge, who leads the First Division scoring with 11 goals this season. There was also first senior international caps for Watford's Crichlow — alongside Lee in the midfield — and Robin Hood striker Chae Brangman.
Bermuda were given an early scare when goalkeeper Dale Eve collided with a crowd of players, including team-mate Crichlow, attempting to come from a dangerous ball into the area. Despite suffering a bloodied nose by the coming-together, the custodian was cleared to continue.
Unsurprisingly it was Canada who created the first opportunity in the eighth minute. Talisman Davies found space down the left-hand side before picking out Larin on the edge of the area, but his first-time shot was well blocked by Jaylon Bather. The resulting corner found its way to Stephen Eustaquio on the edge of the box, who fired harmlessly over Eve’s bar.
On the 15-minute mark the hosts created another opening as Lucas Cavallini was released behind Bather on the right-hand side of the area only to be denied by Eve, who smartly parried the low drive away.
However, just three minutes later Canada broke the deadlock as Davies's dangerous inswinging free kick from the right-hand side found the head of Larin, who glanced the ball beyond the reach of Eve and into the far bottom corner.
In the 26th minute, the hosts doubled their advantage with the same two players combining. Once again Davies was afforded too much space on the left and having skipped past the outrushing Eve, he picked out Larin, who kept his composure to take a touch before firing past the goalkeeper, who had desperately tried to rush back to his line.
Bermuda should have been punished further in the 34th minute as another Davies delivery from the left somehow found Cavallini who failed to capitalise, dragging his left-foot shot wide. Almost immediately afterwards, the midfielder missed an even clearer opportunity.
Once again it was Davies who caused Blankendal all sorts of problem on the flank, skipping past the full back before laying the ball on a plate for Cavallini inside the six-yard box, who somehow managed only to strike the crossbar, when it seemed sure he would score.
In the final minute of the half, Larin was handed another opportunity from a poor touch on the edge of the area by Danté Leverock but the striker could only fire a weak effort into the grateful hands of Eve.
There was just enough time for Canada to create one further chance but Davies shot weakly as Bermuda went into the interval facing just a two-goal deficit, when in reality the margin should have been greater.
Just eight minutes into the second half, Canada made it 3-0. Once again it came down the left-hand side, as Laryea raced on to a through-ball behind Bermuda's defensive line before coolly curling a right-footed effort past the helpless Eve. Moments later, Eve was at his best keep the home side at bay as he made himself big to superbly deny Cavallini's header from close range.
Out of nothing, Bermuda were gifted a route back into the encounter in the 63rd minute. In a rare attack, Lejuan Simmons skipped past Laryea before swinging the ball seemingly harmlessly into the hands of Borjan. However, the custodian fumbled the ball at the feet of the opportunistic Crichlow, who was rewarded for gambling on the cross with a simple tap-in for a debut goal.
Eve was called into action on two occasions in quick succession to keep the deficit to two goals shortly after. He first denied Hoilett from close range with a smart save, before again being alert to keep Davies at bay.
However, there was nothing he could do in the 68th minute as Canada again cut through Bermuda's defensive line with ease. Racing on to a loose ball, Davies once again picked out Larin who had the simple task of sliding the ball past Eve, and Minors on the line, to complete his hat-trick.
With ten minutes remaining the advantage was made greater as two substitutes combined to add a fifth. Once again Canada took full advantage of Bermuda's clear weakness down the left-hand side as Liam Millar, in acres of space, fired the ball across the box to find Corbeanu to tap in from close range.
In the final minute, Eve was again alert to deny Corbeanu doubling his personal tally, keeping out the winger's low, right-footed effort from close range with his feet before the ball was scrambled away.
Canada controlled the closing stages as they saw out the final seconds to clinch a convincing victory. Bermuda meanwhile, will be aiming to bounce back when they face Aruba at the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, next Tuesday.
Canada: Larin 19, 27, 69
Laryea 53, Corbeanu 81
Bermuda: Crichlow 63
Canada (4-4-1-1): M Borjan — S Adekube (sub: D Wotherspoon, 77min), K Millar, S Vitoria, R Laryea (sub: A Johnston, 69) — J Hoilett (sub: T Corbeanu, 77), S Eustaquio (sub: S Piette, 77), A Hutchinson, A Davies — C Larin — L Cavallini (sub: L Millar, 70). Substitutes not used: D St Clair, M Crepeau, C Gutierrez, F Sturing, R Ferreira, M-A Kaye, J Waterman).
Bermuda (4-3-2-1): D Eve — E Blankendal, J Bather, D Leverock (sub: J Bean-Lindo, 83), C Minors — L Simmons (sub: K Scott, 64), R Lee, C Robinson (sub: L Steede-Jackson, 73) — K Crichlow, J Outerbridge (sub: J Furbert, 73) — C Brangman. Substitute not used: J Hill. Booked: Bather.
Referee: A Villarreal (United States).