New York Cosmos' Raul and Cuba captain Yenier Marquez shake hands on June 2, 2015, at the Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana, Cuba. (Photo courtesy of the New York Cosmos)
HAVANA, Cuba -- Lucky Mkosana scored twice in the first half and the visiting New York Cosmos defeated Cuba 4-1 in an international friendly at the Estadio Pedro Marrero on Tuesday.
Sebastian Guenzatti and Hagop Chirishian also tallied for the North American Soccer League side, which became the first United States professional soccer team to perform in Cuba since the now-defunct Chicago Sting in 1978.
Andy Vaquero netted the Cubans’ only goal early in the second half.
The home fans cheered both teams enthusiastically in the historic encounter, which was played in a steady rain.
Cuba enjoyed early possession, but the Cosmos made the most of their attempts to grab a 4-0 halftime lead.
Mkosana opened the scoring in the ninth minute off a defensive error. Located 35 yards from goal, midfielder Cosmos midfielder Leo Fernandes was the recipient of a mishit Cuban clearance. He immediately found former Real Madrid and Spain legend Raul, who squared a nimble chip swiftly to Mkosana in the middle. The 27-year-old forward was never closed down, allowing him space to fire a right-footed shot inside the left post from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The host then placed several opportunities on frame only to be thwarted by goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, before the Cosmos struck for three additional goals during a 10-minute span.
In the 32nd minute, Raul headed down in the box a Danny Szetela pass from the right and an unmarked Guenzatti swooped in to make it 2-0.
Four minutes later, defender Hunter Freeman crossed to the left post for David Diosa, who headed it back in front of the goal. Chirishian was there to tap in from six-yards out.
Guenzatti turned playmaker in the 42nd minute, crossing to Mkosana for his second goal, a volley from the middle of the penalty area.
Vaquero got Cuba on the scoreboard six minutes into the second half with a right-footed effort from 10-yards out.
Cuba will play Curacao in the second round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on June 10 and 14.