Canada finds goals hard to come by in re­match with Cuba

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports -

GE­ORGE TOWN, Cay­man Is­lands — Canada sur­vived heat, a hard pitch and a phys­i­cal Cuba side in a 1-0 win in CONCACAF Na­tions League A play Tues­day, just three days after run­ning roughshod over the Cubans in Toronto.

Canada dom­i­nated play but needed a ninth-minute Alphonso Davies goal for the win.

De­spite los­ing cen­tre back Doneil Henry to a sec­ond yel­low card in the 55th minute, the Cana­dian men had 82 per cent pos­ses­sion at the Tru­man Bod­den Sports Com­plex and com­pleted 696 passes to the Cubans’ 93.

Canada only man­aged six shots, the same as Cuba, and only put one on tar­get.

“It was a tough game. The sur­face was not the best but I think we fought hard,” said Davies.

“We’re happy to get the three points.”

“This is foot­ball. You have to grind a re­sult. It’s not al­ways pretty,” he added

Davies, who had a fine game de­spite ab­sorb­ing plenty of pun­ish­ment from the Cubans, scored with a pow­er­ful left-footed blast from just in­side the penalty box after a Cuban turnover at mid­field. It was the Bay­ern Mu­nich teenager’s fourth goal in 15 na­tional team ap­pear­ances.

“He wouldn’t be at Bay­ern if he didn’t have that qual­ity,” said goal­keeper Mi­lan Bor­jan, who cap­tained Canada for the first time. “The kid is just amaz­ing. He’s a wun­derkind.”

Play­ing at a neu­tral site, a re­vamped Cana­dian ros­ter found it­self deal­ing with a Cuban side that was de­cid­edly more stub­born and phys­i­cal de­spite re­port­edly los­ing play­ers to de­fec­tion on the trip to Canada.

The Cubans chopped down Cana­di­ans as needed and Gu­atemalan ref­eree Mario Es­co­bar con­tent to let them play.

Canada, ranked 78th in the world, thumped No. 179 Cuba 6-0 on Satur­day at BMO Field with cap­tain Ju­nior Hoi­lett record­ing a hat trick and Jonathan David, Jonathan Oso­rio and Henry also scor­ing.

The Cana­dian men had beaten Cuba 7-0 in group play at the Gold Cup in June.

“We knew on this pitch and (with) the con­di­tions, the goals weren’t go­ing to be as flow­ing,” said Canada coach John Herd­man.

“But I was re­ally happy with how the play­ers re­sponded,” he added. “I think we con­trolled the game, even down to 10 men.”

Tues­day’s game was shifted to the Cay­man Is­lands cap­i­tal when the sta­dium in Ha­vana did not pass CONCACAF scru­tiny.

While Canada con­trolled Tues­day’s game, the Cubans were more dis­ci­plined in de­fence – sit­ting deep with two lines of four and con­tent with the oc­ca­sional counter-at­tack by for­ward Maykel Reyes, who had a stint with Mex­ico’s Cruz Azul in 2018.

Canada had 72 per cent pos­ses­sion in the first half but only put one shot on tar­get. The Cubans had one first-half scor­ing chance but the ball hit the side of the goal.

The Cana­di­ans wanted a penalty for hand­ball in the 46th minute but didn’t get it. Herd­man in­tro­duced Oso­rio in the 52nd minute in a bid to help open up the Cubans.

With Henry off the field, Herd­man brought on cen­tre back Derek Cor­nelius and re­moved striker Cy­cle Larin in the 60th minute. Liam Mil­lar re­placed Davies in the 79th minute.

Canada’s ca­reer record against Cuba stands at 9-2-3 with a 27-9 edge in goals.

Herd­man rang in the changes with only goal­keeper Bor­jan, de­fend­ers Henry and Richie Laryea, mid­fielder Mark-An­thony Kaye and for­wards Davies and David re­main­ing in the start­ing 11.

Canada kept push­ing the at­tack de­spite the man dis­ad­van­tage.

Hoi­lett, who plays for Cardiff City FC, re­turned home after the Toronto game to deal with a fam­ily mat­ter.

In came de­fend­ers Steven Vi­to­ria and Sam Adekugbe, mid­field­ers Will John­son and David Wother­spoon and Larin up front.

Bor­jan, mak­ing his 47th ap­pear­ance for Canada, cap­tained the squad. He had al­most noth­ing to do.

The 24-year-old Larin started up front with the 19-year-old David on the right flank and 18-year-old Davies on the left.

Cuba made four changes from its start­ing 11 with goal­keeper Sandy Sanchez drop­ping to the bench in favour of Nel­son John­ston.

The three other changes ap­peared not to be soc­cer-re­lated.

El Nuevo Her­ald, a Florida news­pa­per, re­ported that three of Cuba’s starters Satur­day – de­fender Ale­jan­dro Por­tal, mid­fielder Andy Ba­quero and for­ward and cap­tain Yor­dan Santa Cruz – had de­fected after the game.

All three were miss­ing from the Cuban ros­ter Tues­day.

David Urgelles and Or­len­diz Ben­itez re­port­edly left be­fore the Toronto game.

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