Photo: Shaun Francis who replaced the injured Oniel Fisher got Jamaica's opener against Canada as Jamaica ran out 2-1 winners to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup where they will meet Mexico on Sunday.
Unfancied Jamaica put in another dogged display to edge Canada 2-1 and advance to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Thursday night. An early strike from Shaun Francis gave Jamaica the lead before Romario Williams made it 2-0 in the second half but David Hoilett responded for Canada to set up a nervous ending as Jamaica made back to back Gold Cup semifinals for the first time in their history.
The game was barely six minutes old when Francis, who was brought in for the injured Oniel Fisher, fired Jamaica into the lead with a well taken goal. Canada should have been level shortly after but an unmarked Cyle Larin headed wide of the target to spare the blushes of the Jamaicans.
The hard working Darren Mattocks should have doubled the Jamaican advantage when he got behind the Canadian defence but he shot straight at Milan Borjan who blocked with his body.
With the one goal lead, Jamaica were prepared to play on the counter and created a couple more chances from which they could have scored. First Alvas Powell showed some fancy feet to skip by two defenders before firing on target, but Borjan was equal to the task, pushing the ball behind for a corner kick. Then Mattocks was left pounding the ground after he was denied by a defender’s long leg as his shot seemed destined for the far corner.
As the half wore on Canada took control of the game but the Jamaican defence stood strong to take the 1-0 lead into the half time break.
Jamaica started the second half on the front foot and was celebrating just five minutes after the restart when Williams produced a beautiful curling effort from the edge of the box that had Borjan diving and clutching at air.
The comfortable 2-0 lead was cut in half when Hoilett produced an equally good strike that flew passed Blake and into the top corner on minute 61.
Hoilett was left holding his head ten minutes later when another beautiful strike seemed headed for the top corner once more, but Jamaica’s player of the tournament and captain, produced a magnificent save, pushing the ball behind to maintain Jamaica’s lead.
There were one or two more scary moments for Jamaica but the defence led by Damian Lowe and Jermaine Taylor stood firm to ensure Jamaica got into the semifinals yet again.
"We started right this evening, when you look at the other games we played better in the second half, but today's game we created numerous opportunities.I think the guys were hungry tonight for the victory, three lovely goals were scored...we welcome the victory. It was a difficult game especially when we went 2-0 up. Any team leading 2-0 it's always difficult, but we managed the game properly. Andre Blake was at his best again tonight. We kept focused, we stuck to the task at hand and we came away victorious," said a satisfied Theodore Whitmore.
Jamaica will play Mexico in the semi-finals on Sunday after the defending champions edged Honduras 1-0 in the final quarter final last night.