Barbados Tridents were defeated 5-1 at the hands of Nicaragua last night in their second 2023/2024 CONCACAF Nations League match in League B, Group B at the Nicaragua National Football Stadium.
The game state was laid out early on as Nicaragua dominated possession in the opening stages and trapped Barbados in their own half chasing the ball. With nearly 18,000 people packed into the stadium, the atmosphere was vibrant and every Barbadian mistake got loud cheers. The spectators would not have to wait long for the opening goal as Ariagner Smith rose highest in the tenth minute to nod home an outswinging corner into the bottom left corner. Despite having a player on the near post, there was nobody marking Smith nor the back post with Terrence Smith stuck in between on-looking the imminent disaster.
Barbados did well to stop Nicaragua from racking up more goals straight afterwards considering their defensive issues (an inability to track midfield runners, head away crosses or mark players) continued to rear their head once tasked with an assignment. It was to nobody’s surprise that the second goal went in thirty minutes later. Pressure began to tell as Juan Luis Perez was given the freedom of Managua to pick his spot from distance and lash a thunderous strike past the despairing dive of Liam Brathwaite. Barbadian heads began to drop and from that point the contest became a matter of how many goals Nicaragua wanted to score.
Just before the halftime interval, the hosts were gifted a penalty as an innocuous pass into the Jaime Moreno saw him being clumsily brought down inside the area. Up stepped Moreno to take the spot kick and he was briefly denied by Brathwaite but the parry fell kindly for the 28-year-old to slot away .
There would be no change of fortune for the Tridents in the second half as the hosts tightened their grip on the game. Two minutes after the restart Moreno blaze a gilt edged chance from five yards out over the bar as a whipped cross from the left hand side put him eyeball to eyeball with the keeper.
As Nicaragua racked up the chances and subsequent corners, Barbados’ million dollar man Thierry Gale cut a disconsolate figure on the left flank as opportunities to get on the ball completely dried up. Head Coach Orlando da Costa was left scratching his head.
Within minutes of his introduction, second half substitute Jacob Montes brought up the hosts fourth goal with a nice finish into the goalkeeper’s right corner after he ran onto the loose ball that was left in his path outside the box.
Moreno would finally get his second goal in the 76th minute to complete the rout. However Barbadian fans would get something to celebrate in the dying embers of the match. Nicaraguan goalkeeper Miguel Rodriguez was sent off late on as Reid Stephen was brought down just outside the box as he bore down on goal. After the dust settled, striker Moreno took his place as stand-in goalkeeper with the result already settled. Gale unleashed a rocket past the striker’s commendable but ultimately pointless dive to reduce the arrears and make it 5-1 at full time.
Barbados now lie on the foot of the table with no points from their opening two fixtures and a goal difference of -5. Up next for them is a clash against the Dominican Republic on October 13th at the Wildey Turf. Group leaders with 6 points Nicaragua will play third place Montserrat away from home at the Blakes Estate Stadium. Coming off the high of that late 3-2 win over Barbados, Montserrat lost their second group match 3-0 away to the Dominican Republic.