Cuba's Aricheel Hernandez (pictured) celebrates after scoring one of his two goals against Canada in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship on October 6, 2015, in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo: Mexsport)
COMMERCE CITY, Colorado – Canada (1W-1D-1L, 4 points, 0GD) missed an opportunity to earn a place in the semifinals of the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship (CMOQ), playing Cuba (0W-2D-1L, 2 points) to a 2-2 draw on Tuesday at rainy Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The Canadians held destiny in their own hands, knowing a win would enable them to advance. Now they must wait on the result of the Group A finale, which will be contested later in the evening between the United States (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) and Panama (0W-1D-1L, 1 point, -2GD). A three-goal victory by the Panamanians would see them progress over Canada via goal difference.
On two occasions against Cuba, Canada let single-goal leads slip away.
Michael Petrasso scored in a third straight game to put the Canadians ahead in the 25th minute. This time, he intercepted a backpass from Abel Martinez and tapped a shot off the body of goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez, before the ball rolled into the left side of the net.
Eight minutes later, Cuba was on level terms thanks to a neat pass by Maykel Reyes. The electric forward sent a superb diagonal ball along the ground into the left side of the box for Aricheel Hernandez, who rolled a perfectly weighted left-footed effort past goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and just inside the right post.
Needing a win to remove all of the drama from the nightcap, Canada regained the lead in the 52nd minute on a goalkeeping error. Mohlam Babouli’s left-sided free kick from 20-yards out slipped through the hands of Sanchez, finding the lower-right corner of the net.
Undaunted Cuba went on the attack. If not for Crepeau denying Hector Morales in the 65th minute, the last 25 minutes could have taken a different tone.
After doing well to free himself in the box, Mauro Eustaquio had a chance to put the game out of reach for Canada, but pulled his right-footed attempt wide of the left post.
The Caribbean runner-up equalized with three minutes remaining in normal time with a “goal of the tournament” nominee. A sprinting Hernandez received a delightful flick-on from Andy Baquero and chipped over Crepeau from 24-yards out with his right foot.
Despite an injection of energy from the strike, Cuba could not produce a game-winner. Canada, however, remains in contention for a third straight trip to the CMOQ semifinals.