Ceren hattrick sees El Salvador beat Guatemala and head into group stages

February 18 – El Salvador bumped past Guatemala 3-1 with a hattrick by Brenda Ceren to secure the last slot in Group C of the W Gold Cup.

The two central American nations are no strangers to each other with a 7-2 win record in favour of Guatemala.

Guatemala qualified for the play-off coming second in their League A group, while El Salvador won their League B group.

El Salvador’s Brenda Ceren stamped herself indelibly on the match in the first half. A constant bustling presence in attack she scored twice and could have had a couple more as El Salvador wasted no time in taking a grip of the game.

In the 2nd minute Ceren dribbled from halfway and across the Guatemala defence only to have her shot bundled wide. It was a statement of El Salvador intent.

On 6’ El Salvador thought they were in front after corner was headed into the roof of the net by a diving Victoria Sanchez, only for the goal to be struck off for pushing in the box.

They didn’t have to wait long to take the lead though. On 18’ Danielle Fuentes shot was palmed away by Guatemala keeper Alexia Estrada only for the ball to work its way back to Ceren who fired right to left across the goal right to score her first.

Guatemala responded winning a free kick on 20’ when Aisha Solorazano was brought down on the edge of the EL Salvador box. 13 hit the free kick high and wide

With tempers rising disaster struck for Guatemala. Having won a free kick Saviana Gomez was sent off after a VAR review for punching Juana Plata in the back.

Reduced to 10 players, this now looked like an uphill task for Guatemala.

On 41 minutes Samantha Fisher is put through but her shot hits the post. Two minutes later she hit a free kick over the fop.

El Salvador did have their two goal cushion in the first minute of added time. A long ball to Ceren saw her beta her defenders for pace and slide the ball past Estrada, 2-0. It should have been 3-0 and a hat-trick for Ceren a couple of minutes later but this stime Estrada was equal to the shot.

The second half was as feisty as the first with both side unflinching in the tackle.

Guatemala almost pulled a goal back on 55’. Solorazano was brought down on the left edge of the El Salvador box. Ana Martinez’s free kick was punched off the line by El Salvador keeper Idalia Serrano.

On the hour mark Serrano denied an on-rushing Martinez again when she broke free of her marker.

Guatemala were starting to find a rhythm, pushed along by the non-stop Martinez but it was El Salvador who had the advantage.

Giselle Samayoa brought Ceren just inside the box and Ceren stepped up to complete her hattrick on 70’.

Martinez led the Guatemala reply, hitting the bar from the restart. On 76’ minutes she had her goal. Jinking past two El Salvador defenders on the edge of the box she fired a shot that hit the underside of the bar and went in – a worthy reward for a classy performance.

An entertaining end-to-end finish saw both side go close with tackles flying in from all angles and a missed penalty from Ceren.

El Salvador now head to Houston, Texas, for Group C of the W Gold Cup and matches against Canada, Costa Rica and Paraguay.

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