Reggae Boyz surrender lead in 90th minute for 1-1 draw in El Salvador

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Jamaica’s Michail Antonio, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring his side’s opening goal against El Salvador during a qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Cuscatlan stadium in San Salvador, El Salvador, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz had to settle for 1-1 draw against El Salvador on Friday night in a World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador.

An Alex Roldan goal in the 90th minute denied Jamaica the victory.

The first half ended scoreless despite a sequence in the 39th minute off a corner kick in which El Salvador attempted two long-range shots, both of which hit the crossbar above.

The Reggae Boyz thought they may have had the winner with Michail Antonio scoring his first-ever Jamaica goal late in the second half for a 1-0 lead. The attacker took the ball on the left-hand side of attack and charged forward, beating a pair of Salvadoran defenders and then goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez with a clever chip over the onrushing shot-stopper in the 82nd minute, seven minutes after he was introduced into the game.

Yet El Salvador still had something to say about the outcome of the match and found the 1-1 equalizer.
Roldan, wearing the captain’s armband, got into the box in the 90th minute and headed in a cross from the right-hand side, with the ball tucking under the crossbar and going in.

It’s the Reggae Boyz’ third draw of the final round of World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022, taking the team to six points as the 14-game final round of qualifying reached the halfway point.

They are sixth on goal difference ahead of El Salvador heading into the eight round of matches on Tuesday.

Next on the slate for El Salvador is a visit to Panama City to meet fellow Central American rival Panama, while Jamaica head back to Kingston where they welcome the United States.

Over in Cincinnati, Christian Pulisic scored on a glancing header with his first touch of the game in the 74th minute, Weston McKennie added a goal in the 85th and the USA beat Mexico 2-0 in their top-of-the-table fixture.

Still regaining fitness after spraining his left ankle on September 8 at Honduras, the 23-year-old Pulisic entered in place of Brenden Aaronson in the 69th minute and lifted the USA into a first-place tie with Mexico.

Yunus Musah, an 18-year-old emerging as a key American midfielder, passed to 21-year-old Tim Weah on the right flank. Weah, the son of Liberia president and former FIFA Player of the Year George Weah, crossed and Pulisic got in front of Johan Vásquez and headed the ball past goalkeeper David Ochoa for his 17th international goal.

McKennie, dropped from the roster for two matches in September for violating team COVID-19 protocols, scored after exchanging passes with Jesús Ferreira, McKennie’s eighth international goal.

However, McKennie is suspended for Tuesday’s qualifier at Jamaica after getting his second yellow card of the competition, assessed in the 68th for arguing with the officials after they failed to call Mexico for fouling Aaronson.

The USA and Mexico have 14 points each atop the North and Central American and Caribbean region, one ahead of Canada and three in front of Panama. The top three nations in the eight-team group qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar and the fourth-place team advances to a playoff.

Panama are currently the fourth-place team, five points clear of fifth-place Costa Rica, sixth-place Jamaica and seventh-place El Salvador, which all have six points apiece.

Earlier, Panama rallied from two goals down for a 3-2 win at last-place Honduras on goals by Cecilio Waterman in the 77th, César Yanis in the 81st and Eric Davis in the 85th. The Catrachos, in their first match since Hernán Darío Gómez was hired as coach, got goals from Alberth Elis in the 30th and Brayan Moya in the 59th.

And Canada won 1-0 against El Salvador on Jonathan David’s 57th-minute goal.

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