Panama, Cuba play to 1-1 draw to open Olympic qualifying

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Cuba and Panama played to a 1-1 draw Thursday night to open Olympic soccer qualifying.

The Cuban team, trying to reach the Rio Games for the first time since 1980, scored first when Panama’s goalkeeper tried to clear the ball in the sixth minute. His kick bounced off on-coming Cuban forward Maykel Alejandro Reyes Azcuy and into the net for a stunning goal.

Panama did not score the equalizer until Josiel Alberto Nunez’s goal in the 75th minute, helping it avoid a surprising upset as the country seeks its first ever Olympic bid.

Panama plays its second of three group games Saturday against Canada. Cuba faces the U.S. in the second game of the doubleheader at Sporting Park.