Nicaragua roars to Gold Cup on Barrera hat-trick

Nicaragua players and staff (pictured) celebrate after qualifying for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup by beating visiting Haiti, 3-0. on March 28, 2017, in Managua, Nicaragua.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Juan Barrera scored three late goals and Nicaragua earned a dramatic 3-0 win over visiting Haiti to qualify in stunning fashion for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday at the Estadio Nacional.

The result gave the Nicaraguans a 4-3 aggregate triumph, sending them to the region’s premier national-team competition for only the second time and first since 2009.  Although a loss of even 2-0 would have seen it secure the last of 12 berths, Haiti was eliminated.

It was an unlikely turn of events for the host, which seemed on the verge of being ousted, when Barrera made it 1-0 in the 82nd minute.  The 27-year-old attacker doubled the advantage in the 86th minute, before netting the series clincher with two minutes remaining in normal time.

In the Gold Cup, Nicaragua will play in Group B against Martinique (July 8), Panama (July 12) and the United States (July 15).