GLENDALE, Arizona – Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz stormed into the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for a second consecutive campaign when they beat Canada 2-1 in their quarter-final clash last night.
Goals in either half from Shaun Francis and Romario Williams were enough to give the Caribbean powerhouses the edge at the University of Phoenix Stadium and set up a final-four meeting with tournament favourites Mexico on Sunday in a rematch of the 2015 final.
The Mexicans, the defending champions, beat Honduras 1-0 in the other quarter-final at the same venue.
“It wasn’t easy. Canada is a very good team so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game,” Reggae Boyz captain and goalkeeper Andre Blake said afterwards.
“So all the guys came out, we stuck together and we fought and it’s a great feeling that we’re moving on.”
Jamaica got the early goal they chased in the sixth minute courtesy of a clinical finish from Francis. The enterprising Darren Mattocks, who caused Canada relentless problems with his pace, produced a good move down the left to burst into the penalty area.
He then picked out Francis on the far side for the Montreal Impact forward to produce an excellent finish and beat goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
Blake, who had an outstanding game with several brilliant saves, then preserved Jamaica’s lead in first half stoppage when he denied Dejan Jakovic from a goal-bound header.
However, Williams doubled his side’s advantage in style five minutes after the break, courtesy of further good work from Mattocks.
The Portland Timbers forward held off a defender on the left edge of the 18-yard box before squaring the ball off to Williams who sent a brilliant curling shot from just outside the area into the upper left-hand corner.
Hoilett set up a frantic end to the game when he halved the lead in the 61st, beating Blake with a deft volley from 25 yards after Jamaica’s defenders had failed to close him down.
Canada launched an urgent bid for the equaliser but found themselves frustrated by the superb Blake who pulled off a string of fine saves to keep Jamaica in front.
He acrobatically pushed away Hoilett’s long-range effort in the 71st before brilliantly saving from Michael Petrasso at close range with minutes left in the contest.
“It wasn´t easy. Canada is a very good team. When we got the second goal, I think we lapsed a little bit. They scored a beautiful goal. We figured it out and we won the match,” Blake said after the game.