ATLANTA: Jamaica’s ‘Reggae Boyz’ inflicted defending champions US a humbling 2-1 defeat on Wednesday, becoming the first Caribbean side to reach the Gold Cup final.
After Jamaican defenders disrupted US attacks for the first half hour, Darren Mattocks nodded home the first goal in the 31st minute and followed that up with a free kick in the 36th at the sold-out Georgia Dome.
US captain Michael Bradley answered in the 48th minute but the Americans never managed an equaliser against the stubborn Caribbean backline and lost to a Jamaican side that was 1-13 down in head-to-heads, with eight draws, in their previous matches.
“We made history by making it to the final. It shows what this team is capable of,” said Barnes. “We’ve shocked a few people along the way but we’ve not shocked ourselves. We don’t fear anybody.”
On Sunday in Philadelphia, Jamaica will play for the crown against six-time champion Mexico, who edged Panama 2-1 in the other semi-final.
“We cannot have a party now. We still have one more match,” said Jamaica coach Winfried Schaefer. “Bob Marley comes after the match.”
Panama yell ‘robbery’ after loss to Mexico
Mexico advanced to the Gold Cup final on Wednesday after a controversial penalty that had Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez saying his team was robbed of a rightful victory.
Mexican captain Andres Guardado scored on stoppage time penalty kicks after the 90th and 105th minutes to give his team a 2-1 extra-time triumph over 10-man Panama.
“This is a big robbery,” said Gomez. “It was robbery at gunpoint. It’s a very sad thing to say.”
Gomez was angry at US referee Mark Geiger for ejecting Panama striker Luis Tejada in the 25th minute, but saw the Caneleros take a 1-0 lead on a header by captain Roman Torres in the 57th minute.
On the verge of an emotional triumph in the 89th minute, Torres was whistled for a hand ball violation in the penalty area, falling onto the ball after contact with a Mexico forward.
A two-team confrontation followed as Panama players argued Geiger’s call. Both teams followed him to the sidelines to plead their cases and tensions reached a boiling point.
Calm was eventually restored, but the extended mess took so long that by the time Guardado left-footed his first penalty kick into the bottom right corner to equalise, it was the 10th minute of stoppage time.
Guardado became the hero after Panama’s Herold Cummings fouled Mexico’s Javier Orozco in the penalty area near the end of the first of two extra 15-minute sessions. Guardado left-footed a blast into the left corner.
At the final whistle, two Panama players raced from the sidelines onto the field, chasing referee Geiger, before being restrained by teammates.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.
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