Cuba, French Guiana battle to stalemate
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Action from the Caribbean Cup game between Cuba (red jersey) and French Guiana on November 11, 2014, in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Second-half substitute Michael Solvi struck in the final seconds to give French Guiana a dramatic 1-1 draw with defending champion Cuba in the Caribbean Cup on Tuesday at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

Ariel Martinez scored the game’s first goal early in the second half, but the Cubans had to settle for a share of the points. 

After the first day of Group A play, Trinidad & Tobago sits in first place thanks to a 3-2 win over Curacao.

French Guiana entered the encounter as the highest-scoring team in qualifying with 22 goals and it was the lone side to advance from the preliminary round to the finals.

A scoreless first half generated only one solid chance, when Rudy Evens’ effort from the left side of the box forced Cuba goalkeeper Diosvely Guerra into a brilliant diving save.

Cuba broke the stalemate in the 57th minute and it was Martinez -- scorer of two goals against French Guiana in the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals -- providing a touch of class in his finish.  The 28-year-old striker latched on to a deep pass and outpaced the defense to chip superbly over goalkeeper Donovan Leon.

In a bid to equalize, Gabriel Pigree – the top overall scorer in qualifying with eight goals – and Solvi were inserted into the game.  Their off-the-ball movement created openings in the middle.

Roy Contout nearly took advantage of the extra space in the 69th minute, firing a loose ball just past the left post from 14-yards out. 

Four minutes later, Kevin Rimane whipped in a cross from the right that Pigree headed just over the crossbar.

For all its endeavor, French Guiana finally leveled in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.  A flurry of activity in the penalty area saw Evens find Solvi, who snapped off a shot that beat Guerra.

French Guiana returns to action on Thursday against Trinidad & Tobago, while Cuba will meet Curacao.

2014 CFU CARIBBEAN CUP – FINAL ROUND

November 11, 2014: Montego Bay, Jamaica – Montego Bay Sports Complex
Cuba 1 (Ariel Martinez 57’)
French Guiana 1 (Michael Solvi 90’+4)

Cuba: Diosvely Guerra; Jenier Marquez Molina, Yasmany Lopez, Renay Malblanche, Alberto Gomez (Jesus Rodriguez 77’), Ariel Martinez, Yoandir Puga (Jose Ciprian Alfonso Pita 78’), Jorge Luis Corrales, Armando Curoneaux (Felix Guerra 67’), Hanier Dranguet, Dayron Blanco
Head Coach: Walter Benitez

French Guiana: Donovan Leon; Marvin Toric, Rudy Evens, Albert Ajaisso (Jean-David Legrand 61’), Brian St. Clair (Michael Solvi 65’), Roy Contout, Niki Adipi (Gabriel Pigree 63’), Gregory Lescot, Alain Moges, Kevin Rimane, Marc Edwige
Head Coach: Karam Jair

R: Joel Aguilar (El Salvador); AR 1: Jairo Morales Garcia (Puerto Rico); AR 2: Jeremy Holland (Bahamas); 4th: Sandy Vasquez (Dominican Republic)