COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago, CMC – An extra-time brace from Andrew Jean-Baptiste upstaged a hat-trick from Shahdon Winchester and saw Haiti continue in the CONCACAF Gold Cup following a 4-3 victory over Trinidad & Tobago on Sunday.
Following a 2-2 draw at the end of regulation time, Jean-Baptiste’s double strike in the last 10 minutes of extra time gave the Haitians all the points in the Caribbean Cup contest at the Ato Boldon Stadium in this central Trinidad town.
Under tournament regulations, every match must have a winner, even if a penalty shoot-out is required – and Jean-Baptiste ensured the visitors withstood the T&T assault, which was led by Winchester, and progress to the next stage.
The result meant that Haiti now faces a two-game series against the fifth-place side in the Central American Cup, which opens Friday in Panama City, for a place in the Gold Cup.
A scoreless second half of regulation time and first period of extra time led the two teams into a nervous second period of extra time – and gave the Soca Warriors their final chance to gain a two-goal margin of victory required for progress.
T&T were rocked after six minutes, when Jean-Baptiste connected with Charles Herold’s left-side corner kick and headed past T&T goalkeeper Hughton Hector to give Haiti a 3-2 lead.
With local fans filing out of the stadium in numbers, Winchester completed his hat-trick to bring T&T level two minutes later, when he swept Radanfah Abu Bakr’s flicked header off a long ball into the back of the net.
Jean-Baptiste settled the matter with three minutes remaining however, when his header at the right post – courtesy of Herold’s left-sided free kick – flew past Hector.
Earlier, a spirited first-half saw the two teams on level terms at 2-2 following a double from Winchester and strikes from Derrick Etienne and Kervens Belfort for Haiti.
Winchester gave T&T the lead in the first minute when he netted from the top of the six-yard box off a Nathan Lewis feed.
With the Soca Warriors still trying to reorganise and get a replacement on the field for their injured captain Carlos Edwards, Haiti equalised in the 20th minute when Etienne curled a right-footed effort into the far-side netting from the left side of the penalty area, following a quickly taken free-kick from Belfort.
Winchester regained the lead for the home team five minutes later when he slotted into a gaping net with his right foot from 12-yards out after referee Ricangel De Leca of Cuba whistled Haiti goalkeeper Guerry Romondt for time-wasting and Aikim Andrews put the ball down and slid a pass across the area without hesitation.
But Belfort levelled for the Haitians in the 39th minute heading Herold’s left-sided corner kick past Hector from three yards out.
Another 72 minutes of attrition followed before the Haitians earned their a playoff victory over T&T for the second consecutive year on January 8, following a 1-0 win in a single-game playoff for a berth in the Copa America Centenario.