Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jamaica 2 Canada 1: Reigning Gold Cup runners-up reach semis

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Jul 2017

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It was a case of efficiency as Jamaica advanced to another CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final after seeing off Canada 2-1.

Canada controlled possession in Glendale, Arizona but 2015 runners-up Jamaica made it count on the scoreboard on Thursday.

Threatening on the break, Shaun Francis gave the Jamaicans a sixth-minute lead at the University of Phoenix Stadium after finishing powerfully from a Darren Mattocks cut-back.

Jamaica made it 2-0 early in the second half as Romario Williams curled a shot beyond Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

A long-range stunner from Junior Hoilett just past the hour-mark gave Canada some hope but Jamaica held on to reach the final four for only the fourth time.

Jamaica made two changes to the team that concluded the group stage with a 1-1 draw against El Salvador. Francis and Omar Gordon were called into the starting XI by Theodore Whitmore as Oniel Fisher and Cory Burke dropped to the bench.

Boosted by the inclusion of Orlando City’s Cyle Larin, the returning Canada star replaced Lucas Cavallini up front. Russell Teibert and teenage sensation Alphonso Davies returned to the line-up at the expense of Sam Adekugbe and Manjrekar James after qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time since 2009.

Canada bossed possession from the outset, controlling the tempo and proceedings against the Jamaicans.

However, Jamaica were a constant threat on the counter-attack and they struck first, breaking the deadlock in the sixth minute.

Mattocks drove into the penalty area and squared the ball to Francis, who unleashed a rocket past Borjan.

Larin came close to equalising four minutes later but his header from Scott Arfield’s free-kick went just wide of the post.

Proving to be a handful on the break, Jamaica almost doubled their lead but Borjan was quick off his line to deny Mattocks.

Despite Canada having more of the ball, Jamaica were unfortunate not to be 2-0 ahead after Alvas Powell stepped past two defenders and forced Borjan into a low diving save.

The Canadians looked easy on the eye, their short and sharp passing creating half-chances, but Larin was unable to trouble Andre Blake.

Canada’s hopes of a comeback were made tougher just five minutes into the second half.

Mattocks was in the thick of the action again, holding up the ball before laying it off to Williams, who curled his shot into the corner of the net from the top of the penalty area.

But Hoilett – afforded time and space on the edge of the box – restored hope for the Canadians when he produced a moment of quality, finding the top corner of the net just past the hour-mark.

Hoilett almost scored again from long range but Blake managed to deny the Cardiff City winger’s thunderous attempt as Canada huffed and puffed but could not find the leveller.

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