Reggae Boyz grind out ugly draw against Mexicans
WHILE JAMAICA’S Reggae Boyz did not display any fantastic football against Mexico in Concacaf Nations League action last night inside the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, coach Heimir Hallgrimsson did manage a result, a 2-2 draw, against one of the region’s best teams.
Twice the Reggae Boyz would forge ahead in a torrid first half, first through Bobby Reid in the seventh minute of play then through an Edson Alvarez own goal in the 32nd. But twice, the Mexicans would come roaring 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.
BRIGHTEST ON THE PARK
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 that there was nothing 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 a number of 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 ensured that there was no further addition to the scoring.
Jamaica did produce a number of changes that helped their cause, like the inclusion of Cory Burke in the latter stages and Jonathan Russell at central midfield.
The result means the Jamaicans will not be in the final of the Concacaf Nations Nations League, but their second-place finish in Group A does guarantee them a place in the Gold Cup, set for June 24.