Captain Junior Hoilett recorded a hat-trick and teenager Jonathan David continued his torrid scoring pace for Canada in a 6-0 win over outgunned Cuba in a CONCACAF Nations League A match Saturday night.
Jonathan Osorio and Doneil Henry also scored for Canada, which led 2-0 at the half before an announced crowd of 10,224 at BMO Field.
The Canadians, ranked 78th in the world, trounced No. 179 Cuba 7-0 at the Gold Cup in the U.S. in June and wasted little time piling on the punishment on Canadian soil.
Hoilett opened the scoring in the 13th minute with David adding to the lead in the 21st minute, notching his 11th goal in nine career games for Canada. It was David’s eighth goal in 2019, a Canadian men’s record for a single year.
The KAA Gent forward/attacking midfielder has scored in all seven of his Canadian starts.
Amazingly the 19-year-old David is already halfway to Dwayne De Rosario’s men’s national record of 22 goals. De Rosario, who also played attacking midfielder and forward, scored his 22 in 81 games.
Hoilett scored his second in the 52nd minute and completed the hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute after Alphonso Davies was bundled down in the penalty box.
The two teams will face each other again on Tuesday in the Cayman Islands (a stadium in Havana was deemed not to meet CONCACAF standards). Canada will then meet the 22nd-ranked Americans in October and November to determine the League A group winner who will advance to the Nations League final four.
Canada is looking to rid the sour taste of this summer’s Gold Cup when it blew a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 to 83rd-ranked Haiti in the quarterfinals. David and Lucas Cavallini both scored hat-tricks in the win over Cuba in group play at the CONCACAF championship.
With Cavallini back home awaiting the birth of his child, coach John Herdman deployed David up front Saturday flanked by fellow teenager Davies and the veteran Hoilett.
Mark-Anthony Kaye and Osorio made for a mobile midfield duo with Samuel Piette shielding the back four of Kamal Miller, Derek Cornelius, Henry and Richie Laryea.
Laryea, who is enjoying a banner season with Toronto FC, earned his first national team cap.
Cuba was on the back foot from the get-go with Canada controlling the game. Canadian pressure promoted a string of Cuban giveaways and Hoilett profited from one, intercepting an errant pass and hammering a swerving shot from outside the box in the corner past a diving Sandy Sanchez.
Kaye fed David for the second goal, a highlight-reel score that started with a looping pass that was slightly behind the teen.
No problem. David used one foot to flip the ball in front of him, beat a defender and raced into the penalty box where he coolly waited for another defender to slide by him before slotting the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs.
David took five touches, every one exquisite, on the goal.
The 18-year-old Davies had a shot bounce off the crossbar after a reflex save by close range by Sanchez in the 25th minute.
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Canadian keeper Milan Borjan was finally called into action in the 41st minute after Cuban forward Maykel Reyes was left all alone in front on a defensive miscue by Henry, who did not realize the Cuban was behind him in the box.
The scoreboard kept ticking in the second half with Canadian players literally queuing up to take shots in some instances.
A long ball by Osorio found Hoilett all alone and the Cardiff City forward, with all the time in the world, beat Sanchez from the edge of the box in the 50th minute.
Two minutes later, Kaye threaded a ball through to David. His shot beat the keeper but bounced off the goalpost to Hoilett, who sent the ball across goal for an Osorio tap-in.
Henry, from a pass by Osorio, made it 5-0 in the 65th minute. It was the first goal in 30 appearances for the Vancouver Whitecaps centre back, who fell backwards as his shot from close range went in.
Despite the lopsided Gold Cup result, Herdman talked up the Cubans in recent days. He maintains the June meeting wasn’t representative of Cuba, which had already been eliminated from the tournament and seen players defect.
Cuban manager Pablo Elier Sanchez, the team’s former conditioning coach, took over from Raul Mederos after the Gold Cup, reportedly injecting some youth into his squad.
Canada came into the game with a 7-2-3 career record against the Cubans, outscoring them 20-9. The Canadians had never lost to Cuba on home soil in four previous meetings (3-0-1).
Canada was without veteran midfielders Atiba Hutchinson and Scott Arfield because of injury.
The Canadian men currently stand eighth in CONCACAF, behind Mexico (No. 12 in the world), the U.S. (22), Costa Rica (44), Jamaica (52), Honduras (67), El Salvador (68) and Panama (74).
They are trying to crack the top six in the region to make the so-called Hex round of World Cup qualifying, the most direct route out of the CONCACAF — which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean — to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.