Jamaica stun US for maiden Gold Cup football final appearance

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Atlanta, July 23 (IANS) Jamaica has became the first Caribbean team to reach a CONCACAF Gold Cup football final by stunning defending champions United States 2-1 in the first semifinal here.

First half goals from Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes gave the Caribbean champions a 2-0 lead at half-time at the Georgia Dome stadium on Wednesday night and though Michael Bradley struck early in the second half to reduce the deficit for the Americans, Jamaica held on to pull off the historic win, reports CMC.

The victory was only their second win over the US in 23 meetings, and it came in only their third-ever Gold Cup semi-final, following appearances in the 1993 and 1998 editions of the prestigious confederation tournament.

Jamaica will face Mexico in the final on Sunday. Mexico advanced to the final with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Panama after extra time on Wednesday night in the other last four clash.

The defeat for the US was the first to a Caribbean rival in almost 50 years and will now see the CONCACAF giants miss out on the Gold Cup final for the first time in 12 years.

In a highly anticipated encounter, both teams were evenly matched up until Jamaica double strike within the space of six minutes late in the first half.

Barnes almost put the Jamaicans ahead in the 27th but blasted his volley over from close range while Fabian Johnson forced goalkeeper Ryan Thompson to palm away a shot moments later, as the US responded.

However, Mattocks then gave the visitors the lead in the 31st minute when he glanced a header in off the uprights from about eight yards out, following a long throw-in from defender Kemar Lawrence.

The US had barely recovered from the shock of going behind when a moment of brilliance from the enterprising Barnes saw Jamaica double their lead.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan was whistled for handling the ball outside the area and Barnes stepped up to curl the resulting direct free kick from just outside the box, over the wall and in at the near post.

Down 2-0 at the break, the US came out with intensity and their enterprise paid dividends almost immediately.

In the 48th minute, Thompson failed to gather cleanly from an Aron Johannsson effort and Bradley latched onto the rebound to net from inside the area.

The goal re-energised the Americans and they pressed. Johannsson sent a free header wide just moments later and in the 57th, Bradley came close again but his shot struck Thompson’s shoulder, hit the post and went back into play.

Jamaica, however, remained organised and saw off the US threat, as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann rung the changes but to no avail.

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