Guatemala City, Guatemala – Missed chances plus an awful fumble by goalkeeper Dwayne Miller condemned Jamaica to a 1-2 defeat against Guatemala in their crucial CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Play-offs here at the Mateo Flores Stadium Friday night.
Carlos Figueroa gave the home team the lead in the 16th minute and though Jamaica equalised through a Luton Shelton penalty in the 61st minute, Miller let a simple long range shot slip through his hands for a corner and Carlos Ruiz, Guatemala’s most deadly forward with 54 goals, nodded home the winner with just five minutes left in the game.
The result has taken destiny out of Jamaica’s hands, as they are now forced to beat Antigua and Barbuda convincingly at ‘The Office’ next Tuesday, and hope that either of the United States or Guatemala lose in Kansas City.
The US, who left it late to defeat Antigua and Barbuda 2-1 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium earlier through a brace from Eddie Johnson, and Guatemala are joint leaders of the four-team Group A on 10 points, with Jamaica third on seven and Antigua and Barbuda at the bottom with just one point.
The leaders have an identical goal difference of plus 3 goals, with Jamaica zero.
A three nil victory margin for Jamaica and any defeat in Kansas City next Tuesday will be enough to carry Jamaica into the final phase of six, but a draw will send the Reggae Boyz crashing out of a group in which they should have easily advanced, as they created more than enough chances to have ended last night’s event as a contest.
As was expected, the hosts started briskly and forced the Jamaicans on the defensive in dry conditions in front of a sold out, blue and white clad crowd. It was therefore no surprise that Guatemala had a few cracks at Miller’s goal without seriously threatening.
The Boyz’s first effort on goal went to Luton Shelton who headed over the horizontal from inside the penalty area from a Jermaine Hue right-sided corner, their third of the game within the quarter hour.
However, the hosts went ahead when Carlos Figueroa was allowed the luxury of space, aided and abetted by a timid central midfield pair of Jason Morrison and Jermaine Taylor, to waltz inside the final third and he accepted it gleefully, skipping by a few feeble challenges before ending up inside the penalty box where he made no mistake, slotting past the advancing Miller, much to the delight of the home crowd.
As is customary, the Boyz suddenly got out of their slumber and created a number of chances, but Shelton was wasteful on at least two occasions.
First Je-Vaughn Watson slipped one through for the speedy striker, who raced in on goal one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but he hesitated inside the penalty box and allowed a retreating defender to slide in a steal the ball at the six-yard line.
Shortly after Taylor relayed a pass to Shelton, following a neat give-and-go with Jermaine Hue, but after losing his marker just outside the box, he booted high and wild over the top, though he had enough time to advance on goal and make the chance easier.
There was no doubt goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez was thankful.
The Boyz were relentless in their attack and just before the break Hue played in Ryan Johnson on the edge of the box, but after cleverly turning his marker he was cynically brought down from behind inside the penalty area, but to the Reggae Boyz’s disbelief, Mexican referee Roberto Garcia, who had an atrocious game, waved play on.
The Toronto FC front man did just that and he retrieved the ball wide left and delivered a beautiful pass for the onrushing Watson, who lobbed it high over the top to chalk up another wasteful effort on goal.
That ended up being Watson’s last contribution as he was replaced by Dane Richards, as Theodore Whitmore and his technical staff opted for speed on the right flank of midfield.
The plan worked immediately as shortly after the resumption Lovell Palmer for once got behind the Guatemalan defence and centred a grounded pass aimed at Johnson, but a retreating defender cleared the danger just in time.
The Boyz were in full flow as they strung passes together and in one of those flowing moves Johnson’s intended through pass down the left hand channel was deflected into the penalty area and Richards’ lightning speed took him in just ahead of Jose Contreras who tripped him and Garcia had no choice but to award a penalty.
Shelton then rammed home to pull the Boyz level.
The Boyz were at it again moments later when a swift counter attack initiated by Hue left Richards blowing by his marker on the right and after racing to the byline his teasing cross was planted narrowly wide by Shelton’s diving header.
Then with five minutes left and Guatemala forced to launch long balls hoping for a kind break, a long range shot from substitute Gregory Ruiz slipped through Miller’s hands for a corner.
It proved costly as Ruiz glanced a firm header home to spark wild celebrations for the winning goal. The cost of that goal will be known next Tuesday.
Teams: Jamaica - Dwayne Miller, Nyron Nosworthy, Shavar Thomas, Demar Phillips, Lovell Palmer, Jermaine Taylor, Jason Morrison, Jermaine Hue (Tramaine Stewart 83rd), Je-Vaughn Watson (Dane Richards 42nd), Ryan Johnson (Omar Cummings 77th), Luton Shelton.
Subs not used: Jacomeno Barrett, DuWayne Kerr, Dicoy Williiams, Andrae Campbell, Rodolph Austin, Ewan Grandison, Adrian Mariappa, Joel Senior
Booked: Nosworthy (53rd), Morrison (76th)
Guatemala – Ricardo Jerez, Ruben Morales, Elias Vasquez, Erwin Morales, Jonathan Lopez, Manuel Leon, Jose Contreras, Marco Papa (Dwaight Pezzarossi 68th), Carlos Figueroa (Marco Ciani 74th), Minor Lopez (Gregory Ruiz 66th), Carlos Ruiz.
Subs not used: Jaime Carbajal, Cristian Alvarez, Wilson Lalin, Wilfred Velasquez, Gonzalo Romero, Henry Lopez, Mario Rodriquez, Claudio Albizuris, Sergio Trujillo
Booked: Minor Lopez (53rd), Contreras (59th), Ciani (90th+)
Referee: Roberto Garcia (Mexico)
Assistant Referees: Jose Luis Camargo (Mexico), Alberto Morin (Mexico)
Fourth Official: Francisco Chacon (Mexico)
Match Commissary: Hubert Isenia (Curacao)
Referee Inspector: Luis Enrique Yero (Cuba)