CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jonathan David’s score in the third minute cemented the tone for the match.
After the 19-year-old speedy Canadian forward blasted a shot past Cuba’s helpless goalkeeper, he stuck his thumb in his mouth and jogged over to the sidelines where he was swarmed by his teammates in celebration. In that moment, one thing was clear: Canada was going to dominate Cuba and have a lot of fun doing it.
Canada overwhelmed, outplayed and outsmarted Cuba in the final game of its group play in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. Behind a pair of hat tricks from David and Lucas Cavallini, the Canucks beat the Lions of the Caribbean 7-0 at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, booking their second straight trip to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
“The forwards were hungry going into this game. It was a good energy today,” Canada head coach John Herdman said. “We knew it was going to be a hot day and if we didn’t bring that energy, then maybe Cuba could’ve gotten that little injection and made it tough for us. I think there was just a clarity from all of the players.”
David, who plays for Gent in Belgium, continued his stellar Gold Cup play as it was his third straight game where he has played a part in at least one score for his country. David scored twice in a win over Martinique, had an assist in a loss Mexico and notched three goals and an assist against Cuba.
But while David scored first, perhaps the Canadian that shined the brightest in Charlotte was Cavallini. The 26-year-old forward who plays with Liga MX’s Puebla scored early, often and in a variety of ways.
Cavallini’s first score came in the 21st minute, when he tapped in a deflection caused by a shot from teammate Junior Hoilett. Then, in the 43rd minute, Cavallani finished off a feed in the box from David. Less than three minutes later, Alphonso Davies was sprinting down the left flank and played a near-perfect ball across the box to Cavallini, who slid into it for his third score of the day.
— Gold Cup 2019 (@GoldCup) June 24, 2019
The goals brought Cavallini’s 2019 Gold Cup total to four and gave him nine scores in 14 games with his country. Cavallini was subbed off in the 61st minute, but had a chance to score a fourth goal in the 56th minute. Considering the scoreline, it was easy to overlook that he misfired on a penalty kick after a superb run from David.
“They’re technical,” Cuba head coach Idalberto Medero said of Cavallini and David. “They know how to move without the ball, how to pass together and they play very well with the modern-day football, which is fast, collective and they do really well with that.”
Canada added a fifth goal in the 50th minute when Hoilett found the back of the net after a messy play in front of Cuba’s goal. David’s second and third scores of the day came in the 71st and 76th minutes. David also posted a 74 percent passing accuracy on the day.
TOUCHDOWN CANADA! 🇨🇦
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 23, 2019
This game marked the first time in Gold Cup history that a pair of teammates notched hat tricks in the same game. It was also the most goals Canada has ever scored in a Gold Cup match.
With David’s scores, he moved into first-place for Canada’s active leader in Gold Cup goals with five. The previous leader was Davies, who has three, but Cavallini passed him too.
Davies, 18, spent the day playing somewhat out of position at left back. He still had a heavy impact on the game though, getting forward often, winning possessions and putting his teammates in position to score. The young Bayern Munich midfielder was subbed off in the 70th minute.
“There’s no grumbling. (Davies) just gets on with the job and does the job,” Herdman said. “He put a hell of a shift in. I’m happy with how he performed.”
Overall, Canada controlled 63 percent of possession, were 89 percent accurate on passes, won 16 tackles and put 14 shots on-target, while allowing Cuba to tally just two shots on-goal.
“You could say that (we’re playing our best right now). We’re playing good football,” Cavallini said. “Our main objective is to get to the next round. We got to step up our game a little bit more, be a little more consistent… We’re willing to do what it takes.”
Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan didn’t have much work to do, but rose to the occasion when he was tested, saving three shots and claiming a cross.
While Cuba goes home without a win and with a -17 goal-differential in 2019 Gold Cup play, Canada advances to the knockout stage. The Canadians will play on June 29 against a to-be-determined opponent.