In stoppage time at the end of the first half, Ismaël Koné received the ball on the edge of the box. He set up, erased his marker without difficulty and took a powerful curling shot that landed in the opposing goalkeeper’s gloves.
Earlier in the game, the Quebecer skillfully controlled a throw-in from Cyle Larin with his thigh before his pretty half-volley hit a rival’s arm in the box and gave the Canadians a penalty. Koné, in absolute confidence, was sharp throughout the meeting.
And despite Larin’s failure to convert the penalty that would have earned him a hat-trick, Canada won, cleanly, 4-1 against Honduras in the Nations League on Tuesday night in Toronto.
The three midfielders were dominant. Jonathan Osorio offered the first goal of the game to Larin on a silver platter and scored the last goal for his team. For his part, Stephen Eustáquio sent a corner kick directly to Larin’s head to lead to the second goal for the Reds. Without forgetting Koné, who was a metronome – and a marathon runner – in the axis.
In short, a collective performance that made people forget the inevitable decline of Atiba Hutchinson.
Koné made his professional debut in February 2022 in a Champions League game in a CF Montreal uniform. A year and a month later, the Watford color bearer has established himself as a part of the Canadian team.
Ahead of his first-ever Maple Leaf game in Canada, the 20-year-old was honored as Canada’s Young Player of the Year. For a second consecutive game, the Montrealer found himself in the starting lineup in place of the eternal Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, who aged 40 has blown out the candles of twice as many cakes as Koné, was able to share the field with his successor for about thirty minutes. However, he can boast of having remained standing longer than his counterpart, while Koné, who crisscrossed the field throughout the game, collapsed during stoppage time, exhausted.
If this international window was an indication of Koné’s future with the Canadian formation, he can hope in turn to take over from the midfielder of the Canadian selection. And maybe like Hutchinson, he will reach the plateau of the hundred selections with Canada.
This victory allowed the Canadians to confirm their place in the semi-finals of the League of Nations. The semi-finals are scheduled for June 15 and 18 in Las Vegas. The Maple Leaf will face off against the winner of the Panama-Costa Rica game, which will be played on Tuesday night. In the other semi-final, the United States and Mexico will meet.
The win also allowed Canada to preserve its unbeaten streak in Toronto. John Herdman’s men have not been defeated in the Queen City in their last 21 meetings, since 2011.