Cuba edged by Curacao in WCQ
Published on 29 March 2021
Photo: #11 Onel Hernandez of Cuba celebrates his goal and the first for his country the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers against Curacao. Photo by FIFA media.
Cuba 1-2 Curacao
Onel Hernandez 27’ Leandro Bacuna 11’
Charlison Benschop 44’
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (March 28, 2021)—End-to-end action for most of the match saw Curacao edge Cuba 2-1 at the Mateo Flores National Stadium to make it two wins from two matches in their World Cup Qualifiers quest.
The first chance of the match fell to Cuba in the 3rd minute, when Onel Hernandez intercepted an attempt to play out of the back by Curacao. Ultimately, a poor final pass resulted in wasted opportunity.
It was then Curacao’s turn to be on the offensive, and only a quick reaction to smother a Cuban attempt in the box preserved the score line. Curacao would, however, take the lead through an 11-minute conversion by Leandro Bacuna. The Dutch talisman latched onto a long ball, after a well-timed run, to calmly slot the ball past Sandy Sanchez in goal for the Cubans. Curacao continued their offensive, and the Cuban custodian was again called into action in minute 19 to keep the score line at 1 goal to nil.
Onel Hernandez began to cause Curacao some problems and produced a well-directed shot, which required intervention by Curacao’s goalkeeper. The Curacao defense should have taken that as a warning, as soon after, Hernandez intercepted an errant pass in the Curacao defense to race away from two defenders, calmly placing the ball wide of Eloy Room in goal to draw Cuba level in minute 27.
Both sides continued their attacking style of play, and Curacao were rewarded for the industry just before the halftime break through Charlison Benschop in the 44th minute. Benschop’s deflected effort wrong-footed Sanchez, restoring Curacao’s one goal advantage.
On resumption, Cuba came out the aggressors, as only a win would be enough to keep them in the hunt for advancement from the group. That was clearly in their mindset, and they directed an all-out blitz on the Curacao goal. It was mainly one-way traffic in the second half, and it required some smart saves from Room and resolute defending by Curacao to keep the rampant Cubans at bay.
Tried as they did, the equalizer never came for the Cubans, and the match ended the same way the first half ended, with a 2-1 score line in favor of Curacao.
The win lifts Curacao to maximum points from their two matches so far and in a command of Group C. Cuba are without a point from their opening group matches. While they are still in the hunt mathematically, this loss made advancing harder.