Canada defeated Cuba 3-0 Friday in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in Toronto. It was a game that was predictably wild, as a player was sent off for each side and Cuba apparently only sent 16 players on the trip to Canada, and featured no Cuban subs as five players went "missing" prior to kickoff. Still, Canada have to be happy to have taken care of a must-win game, and should be playing for their advancement in their upcoming final game in the qualifying round.
The hosts started the scoring in the 14th minute, when Tosaint Ricketts scored off a play that originated with a cross from Chivas USA defender Ante Jazic. Although it seemed like Canada would cruise from there, they held the narrow lead for most of the remainder of the game. Real Salt Lake's Will Johnson scored the second on a close-range header in the 72nd minute, after Cuba's Roberto Linares was sent off a minute earlier. Following Johnson's goal, Canadian forward Olivier Occean got tangled up with Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina and was sent off, evening the number of players on the field.
Canada got their third goal of the night on a beautiful play. Jazic sent a looping cross away from the far post, and David Edgar finished with a terrific volley in the 79th minute. Although he won't get all of the plaudits, I watched the last twenty minutes or so of this match, and though Jazic played very well. Although he didn't have to worry about defending as much as he would in most international matches, he pushed forward and was the player on the left that was the offensive fulcrum late. Although he's been part of a struggling Chivas defense, Jazic had a terrific performance for his country in this game.
The win puts Canada in position to advance to the hexagonal round should they win against Honduras Tuesday on the road. It won't be easy, but the Canadians have to believe in themselves and put in a very good performance. It should be a big night for the Canadian national team.
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