Gold Cup: Molina’s stoppage-time goal sends Cuba into the knockout round

Dalton Eiley, Ariel Martinez

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

EAST HARTFORD, Conn.– When Cuba substitute Yoandir Puga’s late goal into an empty net was called back for an offside call, it looked as though Cuba’s Gold Cup adventure was over.

Less than 60 seconds later in the third minute of stoppage-time, a ball pumped into the box was side-footed home by Jenier Marquez Molina, sending Cuba into the knockout round in the process while setting off massive celebrations from the entire Cuban team and coaching staff.

The goal was the final kick of the match, with Cuba defeating ten-man Belize, 4-0, at Rentschler Field.

Ariel Martinez lead Cuba with a hat-trick, as both teams came into the match needing a large scoring margin to progress in the Gold Cup as one of the two best third place squads. Martinez nabbed his first in the 37th minute, with a seemingly harmless strike that sneaked under Belize goalkeeper Woodrow West.

The second goal came in spectacular fashion, with Martinez pulling a couple of nifty moves on Belize’s defense before smashing a shot into the top corner in the 61st minute. A red card to Belize defender Ian Gaynair in the 80th minute gave Cuba the opportunity to pour it on in the final ten minutes.

Martinez scored the game’s third in the 83rd minute, beating the offside trap to complete his hat-trick. In the final minutes of the match, Martinez sent a shot wide after chipping a defender, while Puga saw a goal scored after rounding the Belize ‘keeper West called back.

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7 Responses to Gold Cup: Molina’s stoppage-time goal sends Cuba into the knockout round

  1. Jay Bonds says:

    Fantastic match, actually a great way to promote Concacaf football. Can’t always be the big teams all the time.

  2. The Squad says:

    The region boast some the top professional basketball, baseball, swimming, boxing, and volleyball talent available…

    Why not soccer??

  3. MetrofanNo1 says:

    I actually had to look up who Ariel Martinez was. Apparently the Cuban League is one year older than the USSF. 101 Years!

  4. Felix says:

    I always wondered why Cuban federation’s crest isn’t displayed on the national team uniforms like it is for most nations.

  5. L>K says:

    Seems a little fishy…

  6. Dinho says:

    Martinez is the real deal. Would be a great signing for a MLS team….I’m sure some front offices have taken notice. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him snatched up shortly after the GC.

    • Jim says:

      Only if he defects. He can’t play for MLS unless he enters the country legally, and the only legal entry option for Cubans is defection. Shame really. The US should bury the hatchet with Cuba next to Fidel, and let’s be friends again.