Boyz hold El Salvador

Mattocks penalty hands Jamaica automatic quarter-final berth at 2017 Gold Cup

IAN BURNETT
with the REGGAE BOYZ
@ The CONCACAF Gold Cup in the USA

Monday, July 17, 2017



SAN ANTONIO, United States — Darren Mattocks slotted home a 64th-minute penalty to earn Jamaica a 1-1 result against El Salvador, in their final Group C CONCACAF Gold Cup Tournament game here inside Alamodome yesterday.

Striker Nelson Bonilla had given his team a 15th-minute lead.

The draw gave Jamaican one of two automatic berths to the quarter-finals, while guaranteeing the Central Americans one of two best third-placed teams.

Jamaica will now travel to Arizona tomorrow for their quarter-final encounter on Thursday, while El Salvador will travel to Pennsylvania for a meeting with hosts, the United States of America.

The Jamaicans started menacingly and could have grabbed the lead within 15 seconds of kick-off, had Romario Williams not steered his left-footed effort just wide of Derby Carrillo's right-hand post.

Mattocks took the kick-off and played the ball back to right wing back Alvas Powell, who pumped it long in behind the defence for Williams to run onto. And though the ball fell kindly for him, the powerful striker could not add to his opener against Curacao.

Then the Jamaican defence, which had up that point kept all and sundry at bay, lapsed in concentration and allowed Bonilla to breach Andre Blake's goal.

Left-sided defender Ruben Marroquin did good work by driving infield from the flank and slipped in Bonilla, who was played onside by Kemar Lawrence, and the striker kept his calm to slot home under pressure.

The Reggae Boyz came close on a couple of occasions near the break, firstly when Damion Lowe relayed a pass down the right flank for Powell to race on to before supplying a grounded cross, which was nipped off the feet of Williams at the last minute for a corner.

And on the stroke of half- time the Boyz enjoyed more progress on the right flank when Oniel Fisher played in Powell; but the overlapping defender went for personal glory by blasting the ball straight at Carrillo when he could have centred for either Mattocks or Williams to finish.

The Reggae Boyz almost fell further behind on the hour mark, but Blake stood his ground and denied Rodolfo Zelaya, after the Boyz had given up possession in mid-pitch, which started a swift counter attack.

Shortly after the Jamaicans were back in business when a Jermaine Taylor free kick to the back post was headed back across goal and, during a melee, American referee Jair Marrufo whistled for hand ball and Mattocks made no mistake, firmly driving the ball low and to the left of Carrillo to pull his team level.

It was his second goal of the tournament, following his insurance strike against Curacao, and his fourth in his last five outings, dating back to the 2015 edition.

In the Boyz best combination play of the game, Mattocks just failed to connect on substitute Owayne Gordon's pass near the 70th-minute mark.

In a play consisting of at least eight pass from defence through midfield into attack, the ball was kept on the floor and with Williams releasing Gordon with a one-time pass on the right, the speedy striker centred for the sliding Mattocks, who missed by mere inches to add to Jamaica's lead.

Sensing that the tide was turning and El Salvador ran the risk of being eliminated with a loss, their Colombian technical director withdrew Bonilla and fortified his midfield with Richard Menjivar, in an effort to guarantee a place in the quarter-finals.

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