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Cuba rallies to overcome French Guyana
NORTH SOUND, Antigua -- Cuba rallied from a one-goal deficit to defeat French Guyana 2-1 in the Caribbean Cup finals on Monday and thrust itself back into contention for a semifinal berth. The win at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium created a temporary three-way tie for first-place in Group B between Cuba, French Guyana and Martinique, each on three points. Martinique was to face Jamaica later in the evening.

French Guyana, which upended the two-time defending champion Jamaicans 2-1 on Saturday, went ahead in the 16th minute thanks to the continued fine play of Jean-Claude Darcheville. The former Rangers star turned on his marker, advanced towards the 18-yard box and found Gary Pigree, who beat Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina. It was Pigree's second goal of the finals and his seventh in the competition this year..

The Cubans started inch back into the game with Alberto Gomez, Marcel Hernandez and Jaine Colome Valencia providing the offensive impetus in the search for an equalizer. French Guyana goalkeeper, Laurent Petchy, however, did well to keep the ball out of his own net.

Cuba, which lost its opener 2-1 to Martinique, started the second half on the attack, knowing that it needed at least a point to keep its hopes alive.

Colome Valencia had a shot saved by Petchy and saw another effort slam of a post. He visibly shook his head in disbelief, clearly questioning what he needed to do to get his name on the scoresheet.

French Guyana could have put the game away in the 71st minute, but Lesly Malouda -- with only Molina to beat -- shot wide.

That miss would prove to be costly three minutes later. Second-half Cuban substitute Ariel Martinez knotted the score from 18-yards after dribbling past two defenders and firing past a diving Pecthy.

The suddenly self-assured Martinez completed his brace and won the game for the Lions of the Caribbean with a 76th minute diving header off an inviting pass floated in by Yaudel Lahera.

The victory ended Cuba's three-game winless streak and put it back on track for a possible seventh appearance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Cuba will complete Group B play on Wednesday against Jamaica, while French Guyana will face Jamaica the same day.

 
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