PUEBLA, Mexico - Maykel Reyes scored twice in the second half and Cuba defeated Canada 2-1 in the Group B opener on Monday at 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. The forward thrilled the fans at the Estadio Universitario BUAP with an impressive display that gave the Caribbean Lions their first victory in the confederation finals since 2002.
Both teams started the contest tentatively, taking time to develop rhythm.
A header by Cuba's Emmanuel Labrada came dangerously close in the 12th minute. The near miss seemed to spur the Canadians into action.
Keven Aleman had a chance to give Canada the lead 12 minutes later, breaking into the left side of the box by himself. Rather than round goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez, the 2011 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship standout tried to slip a left-footed shot inside the near post, which was saved easily.
Ben Fisk got to the Cuban end line and sent a 37th minute cross to an unmarked Michael Pietrasso, whose header from six-yards out was cleared off the line by Brian Rosales.
Despite having the upper hand, Canada could not get the goal it seemed destined to net and the game went into the break scoreless.
The second half tipped decidedly in Cuba's favor, as Reyes put on a memorable show.
In the 69th minute, he took advantage of a slipup in the Canadian defense and burst down the right wing into the box. The 19-year-old beat a defender, cutback inside and -- demonstrating patience beyond his years -- simply steered a shot past onrushing Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau to give Cuba a 1-0 lead.
The Cubans sustained the initiative, continuously attacking down the right side of the field.
Later, a cross from the right by Reyes found Yordan Santacrus for a header. Canadian defender Daniel Stanese flashed across the goal quickly, knocking the ball over the end line. On the resulting corner, a lofted pass to the back post was headed back into the middle, where Reyes beat his mark to secure his brace.
Down 2-0, Doneil Henry missed for Canada on a header from close range with four minutes left.
Second-half substitute Stefan Vukovic cut the deficit in the 90th minute, heading in the rebound of another Henry header, following a reaction save by Sanchez.
Mexican referee José Alfredo Penaloza blew the final whistle after nearly six minutes of stoppage time.
With the victory, Cuba tops Group B and will face Nicaragua on Wednesday. Canada will meet the Nicaraguans on Friday in the group's last game.
2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship
February 18, 2013
Group B Result