Canada and the United States advanced to the semi-final from Group A ©CONCACAF

Canada secured a berth in the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship semi-finals after an entertaining 2-2 draw with Cuba at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, but they needed the assistance of hosts United States who overcame Panama in Group A.

Following an opening day defeat but victory in their second game, the Canadian team knew that another win would seal their place in the semi-final stage of the tournament and move them one step away from securing a Rio 2016 Olympic spot.

A mistake from Cuba’s Abel Martinez gave Canada the lead in the 25th minute of the game as his back-pass was intercepted by Michael Petrasso.

Having scored in the opening two matches, Petrasso confidently finished his one-on-one chance against Cuba’s Sandy Sanchez, as he chipped a shot past the goalkeeper into the corner of the net.

Canada’s lead though would not last until half-time as an incisive passing move concluded with an excellent pass from Maykel Reyes, allowing Aricheel Hernandez to race into the area and flash a shot past Maxime Crepeau to level the score.

The second half mirrored the first as a Cuban mistake allowed their opponents to regain the lead as Sanchez spilled a Mohlam Babouli free-kick into his own net, but once again Canada were unable to preserve their advantage as Hernandez grabbed his second goal with a delightful chipped finish three minutes from time.

With the game ending in a draw Canada were left hoping that Panama would fail to beat the United States by a three goal margin, with that unlikely result meaning they would drop out of the qualification positions for the semi-finals.

The United States topped the group after a 4-0 win over Panama
The United States topped the group after a 4-0 win over Panama ©Getty Images

However, any Canadian fears were allayed five minutes into the second half as Panama’s defender Fidel Escobar, who was sent-off in their opening Group A tie, deflected the ball into his own net to gift the United States the lead.

Having fallen behind the Panama defence collapsed as Jerome Kiesewetter scored his third goal of the tournament with a shot from the edge of the area, before turning provider as his cross allowed Jordan Morris to also notch his third of the campaign.

After the six-minute spell which saw Panama’s defence leak three goals, they briefly thwarted the American onslaught, until Roberto Chen fouled Kiesewetter in the box with 20 minutes remaining which allowed Luis Gil to make the score 4-0 from the penalty spot.

Having secured the victory the United States confirmed their status as Group A winners and will play the losers of the Group B tie between Honduras and Mexico, with both teams having already qualified for the last four, while Canada will take on the victors of that encounter.

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