A brilliant solo goal from Jobi McAnuff saw Jamaica return to the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a draw in an end-to-end encounter against Costa Rica in California on Wednesday.
With his side trailing by a goal early in the second half at the Stubhub Center just outside Los Angeles, McAnuff dribbled past two opponents to get into the box and then poked his shot under Costa Rica goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado to secure a 2-2 draw.
Having failed to qualify for the 2013 Gold Cup, Jamaica had entered this year’s tournament on the back of a three-game losing streak at the Copa America but gave as good as they got against the three-time CONCACAF champions.
While Wednesday’s match featured some questionable defending at both ends, it did not detract from the entertainment value as both sides pushed for a winning goal throughout the second half.
For Costa Rica, who had looked set to run away with the game after goals in the 33rd and 37th minutes, the result extended their winless run to six matches, with Paulo Wanchope’s men not having tasted victory yet in 2015.
Poor defending from Costa Rica saw Jamaica hit the front in the 13th minute, with a long throw bouncing over Junior Diaz, allowing Garath McCleary to volley the opener at the back post.
As the half wore on, however, Costa Rica started to take control and turned the match around in the space of five minutes with Roy Miller and David Ramirez getting on the scoresheet.
A free-kick variation saw the ball played across the top of the box for the Central Americans’ equaliser, with Ramirez then dinking a pass over the opposition defence for Miller to nod home.
Ramirez then put Wanchope’s team ahead after Jamaica defender Wes Morgan failed to deal with a long pass and the Costa Rica striker got in behind to lift his shot over keeper Dwayne Miller.
But just two minutes into the second half, Jamaica dragged Costa Rica back thanks to McAnuff’s impressive surge from midfield.
The rest of the match saw a raft of chances at both ends, with Johan Venegas almost putting Costa Rica ahead just a minute after McAnuff’s goal only for Miller to palm the shot away, while Jamaica substitute Darren Mattocks shot straight at Alvarado after the hour mark.
Jamaica wasted a four-on-two opportunity with four minutes remaining before Costa Rica broke the other way, only for Miller to parry Deyver Vega’s shot.
In the 89th minute, Simon Dawkins failed to convert an opportunity directly in front, which would have handed the Jamaicans victory, with Alvarado pulling off another impressive save.