Reggae Boyz secure Gold Cup place
Jamaica's Reggae Boyz will appear in the Concacaf Gold Cup set for June 24 after a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Mexico inside the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City last night.
The Jamaicans failed in their bid to make the Concacaf Nations League final, needing a win against the Mexicans to top Group A to do so, but earned a Gold Cup spot by finishing second.
There was nothing spectacular about Jamaica's victory, although the statistics will tell you that it was the Mexicans who earned a point in the encounter after coming from behind twice in a torrid first half.
The Reggae Boyz first went ahead through Bobby Reid in the seventh minute of play and did so again when Edson Alvarez turned the ball into his own net in the 32nd. But Mexico, who were never second best in the encounter, would roar back, first through Orbelin Pineda's 17th-minute leveller and again from Hirving Lozano's equaliser in the 47th.
That first half had seen Jamaica on the back foot early, however, that pressure would turn beneficial as a goal kick for the Jamaicans was launched almost the length of the field to Shamar Nicholson, whose challenge against his defender created problems for the Mexicans.
Eventually, a poor clearance would bounce fortuitously for Reid to slam a 25-yard pile driver that left Mexican custodian Guillermo Ochoa hapless.
The lead gave Jamaica some confidence, but by the 15th minute, the Mexicans had recovered and were again dominating possession.
Then Lozano, receiving a pass down the left side, pulled back a cross that had very little pace on it but seemed to have wrong-footed Amari'i Bell, who could do very little but watch as Peneda stabbed home his equalising effort.
Jamaica, again through the industry of Nicholson, who looked the brightest on the park in the first half, earned a corner, and the delivery almost fell to Damian Lowe, whose deflected header hit the legs of Alvarez and he could do nothing but watch it trickle into his own goal.
After a 33rd-minute weather delay, the Jamaicans would start aggressively trying to win the ball back from the Mexicans and break up their rhythm.
However, the aggression also meant nothing was happening for the Jamaicans on the offensive side of the ball.
Eventually, the Mexicans would push the Jamaicans further back and a poor tackle from Ravel Morrison, playing at central midfield, led to a penalty, which Lozano powerfully hit home.
While there were several presentable opportunities for both teams in the second half, the combination of good goalkeeping on the part of Ochoa and the crossbar from the other end meant there was to be no further addition to the scoring.
Jamaica did produce several changes that helped their cause, like the inclusion of Cory Burke in the latter stages and Jonathan Russell at central midfield.