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Jackson hat trick leads Canada to World Cup qualifying romp

Simeon Jackson scored a hat trick in Canada's 7-0 World Cup qualifying win over St. Lucia on Friday. FILE: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Chris Young/CP

Canadian coach Stephen Hart didn't even realize his team made soccer history with its thrashing of St. Lucia in World Cup qualifying.

Simeon Jackson scored a first-half hat trick Friday as Canada hammered the tiny Caribbean nation 7-0.

It was the most goals Canada has ever scored in an international and the country's most lopsided win in World Cup qualifying since a 5-1 win over the United States in 1957.

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"I didn't know that," Hart said. "I'm just glad we got the result and we showed a little faith in (Jackson) and he sort of paid it back early."

It was a notable moment for a country that hasn't had much to boast about in soccer. Apart from an Olympic Gold Medal in 1904, qualifying for the 1986 World Cup and a Gold Cup win in 2000, Canada's history in the beautiful game is modest at best.

Olivier Occean and Iain Hume added two goals each for the Canadians, who top the second-round CONCACAF qualifying group with nine points from three matches.

"We let ourselves down the last two games because we dominated the games, similar today but we just couldn't put the goals away," Hume said. "I think the way we dominated the game physically, mentally and obviously technically, it was pleasing for us."

Jackson, who plays professionally with Norwich City of the English Premier League, scored in the 19th, 27th and 39th minute as Canada built a 4-0 lead at halftime.

He joins Alex Bunbury as just the second Canadian to score a hat trick in World Cup qualifying.

"It was a great performance from everybody," Jackson said. "Today, (the finishing) was there and that's what happens. When you're on point, you get loads of goals."

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Jackson opened the scoring when he raced onto a long, looping ball from Adam Straith before beating St. Lucian goalkeeper Pessius Paulius.

The sparse few hundred St. Lucian fans were kept silent for most of the game. A few dozen Canadians in attendance were given an ovation from the players after the game.

Canada's second goal came when Straith deflected a Terry Dunfield corner kick into the path of Jackson, who scored from in close. Jackson's third came off a rebound.

Straith got the start in place of usual captain Kevin McKenna, who was left out because of a foot injury. It was Straith's seventh appearance for Canada.

"I was really impressed with him," said Hart. "(He) brought the ball out of the back very well."

Jackson nearly had a fourth in the half in the 35th minute, but his shot deflected in off Occean.

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Occean got his second just seven minutes into the second half on a breakaway. Hume scored on breakaway of his own in the 73rd minute and added another four minutes from the end when he latched onto a cross from Canadian debutante Ashtone Morgan.

Canada is ranked No. 87 in the world, while St. Lucia is No. 185.

Only the top team in the group advances to the next stage of CONCACAF qualifying.

Puerto Rico and St. Kitts were scheduled to play later Friday. Canada's next game is at BMO Field in Toronto against Puerto Rico on Tuesday before ending the round with two games against St. Kitts.

St. Lucia hosted the match against Canada at the Beausejour Cricket Oval. Built in 2002, the stadium has a capacity of 13,000 and is located in a rural area at the base of the Beausejour Hills.

The stadium has hosted World Cup cricket games, and the large scoreboard still displays the rosters of the West Indies and Pakistan cricket teams. Since it wasn't designed with soccer in mind, the pitch is awkwardly angled inside the circular cricket oval, meaning fans were forced to sit a good distance from the field.

The game started without the usual playing of the national anthems.

After a bit of confusion, the players shook hands before moving into their starting positions. Once there, the Canadian anthem started to play but an organizer motioned for it to be stopped.

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