A star is born: Kane Crichlow at the double as Bermuda bounce back
Bermuda 5 Aruba 0
Bermuda bounced back in style to reignite their World Cup qualifying campaign with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Aruba at the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, last night.
On the back of a 5-1 defeat by Canada in their opening outing in group B, Kyle Lightbourne's side more than made amends as a brace from Kane Crichlow — his second and third goals in just two international games — and further goals from Jaylon Bather, captain Danté Leverock and substitute Knory Scott put Bermuda's first points on the board.
Lightbourne, back in the dugout after missing the opening match, opted for three changes to the starting line-up, with Jahkari Furbert being handed a place out on the left flank in place of Jordan Outerbridge, while PHC Zebras pair Keishon Bean and Enrique Russell replaced Cecoy Robinson and Chae Brangman in attack.
Despite a torrid outing against Canada, the defensive unit of Euseibio Blankendal, Leverock, Bather and Calon Minors remained unchanged in front of goalkeeper Dale Eve, with Crichlow partnering Roger Lee in central midfield. Lejaun Simmons also retained his place out on the right-hand side, while Zeiko Lewis returned to the bench having been forced to miss the match last Thursday.
In a fairly even start to proceedings it was Aruba who had the first attempt on goal after six minutes but Erik Santos could only fire tamely into the arms of Eve. The midfielder called Bermuda's No 1 into action again moments later, the goalkeeper at full stretch to tip a dangerous free kick from the edge of the area around a post.
Santos spurned another half chance in the fifteenth minute when a partially cleared corner fell to him on the edge of the area but he fired wildly over on the volley. Just four minutes later, another corner was cleared into the midfielder's path in the exact same position, but he again failed to capitalise, drilling a first-time shot harmlessly wide.
Having withstood the early pressure, Bermuda began to get a foothold in proceedings and found themselves entrenched in the Aruba final third. Yet, despite creating a host of probing openings and corners, they failed to breach the opposition defence as the match reached the 30-minute mark.
Moments later, Lightbourne's side went close to breaking the deadlock. In an abundance of space 25 yards from goal, Bean unleashed a curling right-foot effort that whistled narrowly past Eric Abdul's left-hand post with the goalkeeper well beaten.
That pressure finally reaped reward in the 36th minute as Bermuda opened the scoring. Switching the play from right to left, the ball made its way out to Furbert, whose tantalising, pinpoint cross found Crichlow to volley home from close range; his second international goal in as many games.
Four minutes before the interval the advantage was doubled as Bean's inswinging corner from the left was met by Bather to head powerfully home past the helpless Abdul.
Building on that momentum, Bermuda picked up where they left off in the first half, further extending their advantage minutes after the restart as captain Leverock added a third.
In the 64th minute, two substitutes combined to make it 4-0. Receiving possession on the left-hand side, Lewis fired the ball across the box where Knory Scott was perfectly placed to guide the ball in from close range.
Bermuda had the ball in the net once again moments later, but the referee adjudged a foul was committed on the goalkeeper in a goalmouth scramble. As a result of the challenge, Abdul was forced off to be replaced by substitute custodian Jose Cruz.
Another substitute, Chae Brangman, should have put the result further beyond any doubt in the 70th minute but failed to add a fifth, firing straight at the goalkeeper when through one-on-one.
Refusing to rest on their laurels, a fifth goal duly arrived with ten minutes remaining as Crichlow doubled his tally on the night. Winning back possession on the edge of the area, the Watford forward beat two defenders before drilling a low left-footed effort under the goalkeeper to conclude an impressive team performance.
Bermuda: Crichlow 36, 80, Bather 40, Leverock 57, Scott 64
Bermuda (4-4-1-1): D Eve — E Blankendal, D Leverock, J Bather, C Minors (sub: J Bean-Lindo, 90min) — L Simmons (sub: K Scott, 62), R Lee, K Crichlow, J Furbert (sub: Z Lewis, 62) — K Bean (sub: L Steede-Jackson, 82) — E Russell (sub: C Brangman, 62). Substitutes not used: J Hill, C Robinson, J Outerbridge. Booked: Simmons, Lee, Bather.
Aruba (4-2-3-1): E Abdul (sub: J Cruz, 69) — M Jacobs, N Paul, F Croes (sub: D Linscheer, 28; sub: S Monticeuex, 85 ), E Croes (sub: J-P Heyden, 85) — K Poulina, E Santos — J Jiménez, W Bennet, E Clarissa (sub: S Stamper, 88) — F Gomez. Substitutes not used: G Bautista, E Tromp, J Howell.
Referee: J A Herrera Bonilla (El Salvador).