Antonio’s strike spurs Jamaica to a draw with the United States

Published on 17 November 2021

Jamaica’s Michail Antonio (#18) celebrates with team mates after scoring a stunning long range goal in Jamaica’s 1-1 draw against the United States of America at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo: AP)

KINGSTON, Jamaica (November 16, 2021)—Michail Antonio’s second goal in as many matches earned Jamaica a point against group leaders, the United States.

Playing at home at the National Independence Stadium, the Reggae Boyz found themselves behind as early as the 12th minute after Timothy Weah gave the visitors the lead.  Weah picked up a ball a few meters outside the penalty area and, with his pace and direct running, got past two defenders and his effort hit the left upright before nestling in the bottom right-hand corner. 

Veteran Jamaican skipper Andre Blake was called into action a few minutes later, and he pulled off a diving save from a close-range shot to keep the damage to a minimum as the Americans ramped up the pressure.

The home team was soon back in the match, finding the equalizer, much against the run of play in the 22’, courtesy Antonio. The West Ham ace produced a top-draw finish, beating Jack Stephens to his left from 30 meters. Antonio’s stunning strike was hit with both pace and precision into the top right corner, giving Stephens no chance despite his best efforts.

Jamaica may have felt that they did not receive their just reward, as they had a penalty appeal turned down just before the half time break.  Replays showed what seemed to be a deliberate hand ball, and they would have benefited from VAR if only it was available for the qualifiers. The half ended with both teams tied at a goal each.

The second half started more evenly, as both teams tried impose their will with some physical play, but it was the Caribbean outfit which was presented with the first big chance of the second half.  The US defense failed to deal with a cross in the 53rd minute, and the ball fell kindly to Bobby Reid inside of the goal area. One would have bet the house on him to finish, but the Fulham man skied his effort.

Coach Gregg Berhalter introduced US talisman Christian Pulisic in the 66th, looking to turn his team’s fortunes around. But the Reggae Boyz, marshalled expertly in defense by Damion Lowe, kept the Americans at bay. 

Theodore Whitmore’s charges thought they had secured all three points on offer as Lowe, looking to cap of another stellar performance, rose best to meet a corner kick, heading past Stephens in the 85th minute. Celebrations were cut short as the goal was disallowed by the referee, with replays suggesting that it was Lowe who was impeded moments before his headed finish although the referee saw things quite differently

Late forays forward by both teams yielded little in the way of meaningful scoring chances, and the match ended honors even.  The draw saw Canada leapfrogging the US to take a one-point lead at the top of the standings and Jamaica remain in sixth position, a point ahead of El Salvador and seven points behind Panama who occupy the final playoff spot in fourth place.

 

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