The United States’ first international friendly on Cuban soil since 1947 ended with Chris Wondolowski and Julian Green inspiring a 2-0 win, as the hosts wasted several chances.
The two countries restored diplomatic relations in July 2015 after decades of political tension and Friday’s meeting was their first in Cuba in any capacity since a World Cup qualifier in 2008.
USA unsurprisingly looked superior technically, but the Cubans enjoyed the better chances throughout, with Ethan Horvath forced into a few saves before the break.
Horvath was then rescued by the post in the second half as Maykel Reyes went close, just a few moments before substitute Wondolowski opened the scoring at the other end.
Cuba struck the post again through Alejandro Gomez and were made to rue their profligacy as Green tapped in shortly after, wrapping up the victory.
The flow of proceedings during the early exchanges was significantly impacted by the terrible condition of the pitch in Havana, even if it seemed to favour the hosts initially.
It took 23 minutes for the visitors to adjust and craft their first chance, as Green beat his marker and then forced Sandy Sanchez into a smart save with his leg.
USA were soon troubled by Cuba, as Reyes brought a lofted pass out of the air on the right, juggled it and then teed up Roberney Caballero for a low drive that Horvath unconvincingly tipped wide.
Cuba went close again 10 minutes before the break – Arichel Hernandez meeting Caballero’s cut-back on the edge of the area, but Horvath just about kept hold of it in spite of a couple of unruly bounces as a result of the state of the pitch.
USA improved as Jurgen Klinsmann introduced three substitutes – including Wondolowski from the bench at half-time – but Cuba remained a threat, almost going ahead in the 58th minute, as Reyes sent a stinging drive on to the right-hand post.
USA capitalised on that let-off a few moments later as Sanchez parried Green’s effort into the path of Wondolowski, who was left with an easy finish.
Cuba again struck the post through a Gomez header in the 66th minute and USA were soon two up – Wondolowski this time turning provider for Green, playing the ball into the danger zone for an easy finish.
Wasteful Cuba saw another fine opportunity go begging nine minutes from the end as Duxney Espinosa shot over from 12 yards with only Horvath to beat and that was to be their final chance.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!