A contentious free-kick from Giles Barnes inspired Jamaica to a shock 2-1 victory over United States, dumping the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup co-hosts out in the semi-finals.
USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan was judged to have handled the ball outside his own penalty area in the first half, and Barnes curled the set-piece over the wall and into the net to give Jamaica a two-goal advantage at the Georgia Dome.
Barnes’ goal combined with Darren Mattocks’ earlier header sent Jamaica to their maiden Gold Cup decider, while defending champions USA missed out on a sixth straight continental championship final despite Michael Bradley’s goal two minutes after half-time.
A horror five minutes for USA saw them concede a deficit they could not arrest, with Mattocks and Barnes scoring in the final quarter-hour before the interval.
Lax defending from the home side allowed Mattocks to head a long throw in off both posts in the 31st minute before Barnes slotted his controversial free-kick in the 36th.
Jamaica goalkeeper Ryan Thompson’s slippery fingers helped USA back into the contest in the 48th minute as he failed to hold Aron Johannson’s shot from the edge of the box.
Clint Dempsey’s follow-up effort ensured Thompson could not gather possession at the second attempt and Bradley poked the loose ball into the net.
But after a positive start to the second half, USA were unable to fashion an equaliser as Jamaica pulled off the biggest upset of the 2015 Gold Cup.
With Jamaica coach Winfried Schafer and his fellow German Jurgen Klinsmann setting their sides up in relatively defensive 4-4-2 formations, the game started slowly in Atlanta.
Je-Vaughn Watson had the first genuine chance of the match in the 11th minute, dragging his shot wide from just outside the area.
The home team started to get on top from the 20th minute onwards, although their final pass was lacking, before Mattocks put Jamaica in front, inexplicably winning a header in between two defenders and looping the ball onto the far post.
The ball bounced back along the goal-line and then deflected into the net off the other post.
Guzan’s error and Barnes’ strike followed soon after and the home fans were reeling at the break.
The momentum swung drastically in the second half when Bradley scored and Klinsmann’s men should have been level three minutes later when Johannsson headed over from six yards after Thompson again failed to hold an initial shot.
Jamaica’s custodian again needed some luck in the 56th minute when Bradley’s swerving drive from 30 yards bounced off his chest and onto the post, but Thompson had the last laugh as the Caribbean nation held on for the win.
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