Maikel Reyes (pictured) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal for Cuba in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Guatemala on July 15, 2015, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo: Mexsport)
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - Cuba scored its only goal of the group stage, recording a 1-0 Group C victory over Guatemala at Bank of America Stadium Wednesday night to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals.
Maikel Reyes tallied the game-winner in the 73rd minute of what was a must-win game for both sides.
The Cubans (1-0-2, 3 points) advanced as one of the two best third-place teams for the second consecutive Gold Cup and reached the knockout round for the third time overall. In 2013, needing to defeat Belize by four goals to move on, the Leones del Caribe scored in stoppage time for a 4-0 triumph.
The victory set-up a quarterfinal date with Group A winner United States in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium. It will be the sixth Gold Cup encounter between the teams. Guatemala (0-1-2, 1 point) was eliminated.
On the decisive play, Alberto Gomez sent a left-wing cross into the penalty area for Reyes to beat goalkeeper Paulo Motta with a diving header from point-blank range. Reyes was given a yellow card for taking his shirt off as he celebrated with teammates in front of a corner kick flag.
Reyes, who plays for Pinar Del Rio, had made a name for himself at the youth international level, scoring three times in the 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and once against the Korea Republic in the FIFA U-20 World Cup later that year.
The Cubans entered the match without a goal as it was outscored, 8-0, in two losses.
Both teams created opportunities on both ends of the field as Guatemala deployed a counterattack to break down their foes.
Cuba tried to answer the Chapines with an Ariel Martinez header in the 52nd minute. A minute later, another Martinez attempt was caught by Motta.
Guatemala thought it had equalized in the 79th minute, when second-half substitute Stefano Cincotta flicked a ball over a defender and bounced it over the goal line. Cincotta was whistled for a foul, though, and the goal was disallowed.