Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey were on target for the US on Tuesday as they made a confident start to their Gold Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Canada.
After suffering a 4-0 defeat at home to Spain in a friendly on Saturday, US coach Bob Bradley reverted to his tried and tested formula and it delivered the kind of solid display his team have become noted for.
German-born Jermaine Jones and Bradley’s son Michael were impressive in the center of midfield, while in attack Altidore, who continues to under-achieve at club level, delivered a much-needed reminder of his qualities.
Canada still have a chance to progress from Group C, which also features Panama and Guadeloupe, but were disappointing until the final stages when they finally tested US keeper Tim Howard and his defense.
A crowd of 28,000 at the Detroit Lions’ NFL stadium Ford Field saw the US make a strong, determined start.
Altidore opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a smart shot on the turn that crept under the body of Canadian keeper Lars Hirschfeld.
The Americans extended their advantage in the 62nd minute when Altidore turned provider, bursting down the right flank and delivering a firm, low cross to the back post where Dempsey slid the ball in.
PANAMA 3, GUADELOUPE 2
Panama survived a late comeback from 10-man Guadeloupe before holding on for a 3-2 victory in their CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C opener on Tuesday.
After leading 3-0 inside the hour, the Central Americans looked to have the game in the bag, especially with a one-man advantage following the sending off of Guadeloupe’s Michael Tacalfred.
However, Guadeloupe, who many expected to finish bottom of a group that also features the US and Canada, showed plenty of character and attacking ability to give Panama a scare.
Blas Perez put Panama ahead in the 29th minute, pouncing inside the area and firing home on the turn, then two minutes later, a fine solo effort from Luis Tejada doubled the advantage.
Things got even trickier for Guadeloupe after they had Tacalfred sent off in the 38th minute for a foul on Luis Henriquez.
REUTERS, BERNE, GERMANY
Germany all but secured a place at the Euro 2012 finals with a 3-1 win in Azerbaijan, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic got a hat-trick as Sweden demolished Finland 5-0 to provide an unexpected spark to the end of the European season.
Germany, after surviving an early let-off, can almost book their flights to Poland and Ukraine after Mario Gomez scored his fourth goal in three internationals in a comfortable outing that gave them their seventh win in as many qualifiers.
Belarus and Bosnia chalked up 2-0 wins over Luxembourg and Albania respectively as Group D, where France are now only one point clear at the top, remained wide open.
The Faroe Islands provided an upset with a 2-0 win over Estonia as Tuesday night’s program of matches, although less than inspiring on paper, provided more drama than expected to round off a marathon European season.
Germany, with Philipp Lahm their oldest player at 27, beat Azerbaijan 6-0 earlier in their Group A campaign but had more trouble this time with Vugar Nadyrov hitting the bar for the hosts with the score at 0-0.
Mesut Ozil and Gomez put Azerbaijan in their place, however, by scoring twice in a 11 minutes before halftime.
Murad Huseynov pulled one back for the valiant hosts in the 89th minute but Andre Schuerrle made it 3-1 in added time.