MIAMI, Florida:DEMAR PHILLIPS tucked away two second-half goals to hand Jamaica a 2-0 win over Guatemala at the Florida International University (FIU) and early second-round qualification at the CONCACAF Gold Cup last night.
“It wasn’t only me, it was a team game, everybody worked hard,” said Phillips. “In the team we have a lot of players who can score goals from around the pitch. If the strike force is not at their best we can step up.”
Phillips, the left-sided midfielder who has now scored three times in two outings, netted at the 65th and 78th minutes to hand Jamaica their second victory in as many starts, and maximum six points to lead Group B.
Jamaica had beaten Grenada 4-0 in their opening game on Monday night in Los Angeles and the Grenadians appeared heading to their second loss, trailing Honduras 3-1 after 37 minutes in the feature match at FIU, at press time.
Honduras entered the game with one point from their first-game 0-0 draw with Guatemala.
one step forward
“This is just one step forward,” said Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore, Jamaica’s head coach. “We don’t just want to participate, we came here to make a mark and so far we’re doing well.”
The Guatemalans appeared to come with a plan, just launch the ball forward in the hope that they would get a chance from a lucky bounce or spill. They almost got that hope in the fifth minute when Jamaica’ central defender Dicoy Williams swung to make a clearance and hurt himself, while kicking over a Guatemalan opponent as he missed the ball. Costa Rican referee Walter Quesada ignored the calls for a penalty kick.
Jamaica, though, lacked the composure that enabled them to dominate their opening match and wasted possession with a lot of long kicking.
Despite this, they eventually settled down near the 15th minute and took control of the game.
The maintained their dominance until close to the 40th minute, but hardly created decent scoring opportunities, even though they got a few good looks.
From a wonderful build-up that saw play being switched to the other side of the pitch, Demar Phillips laid back a pass that Dane Richards hit low and wide of the goal at the 25th minute.
Two minutes later, Phillips had a shot off a free kick that was deflected just wide of goal; and Ryan Johnson hit a shot across goal from inside the box when he faced no pressure.
Guatemala, for their part, had their only efforts drilled at goal by Carlos Ruiz from outside the box. Of the two, one went tamely to goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and the other wide of the post.
A different Jamaica team emerged for the second half, full of purpose and belief as they turned up the offensive, with Luton Shelton leading the way.
With only two minutes gone, he took a pass at the half line off Richards and went on a spectacular solo dribble, beating four defenders to get into the penalty box, only to see his shot saved by goalkeeper Jerez on the second attempt.With Rodolph Austin and Jason Morrison dominating midfield, Jamaica stepped up their dominance and made a telling substitution at the 61st, bringing on midfielder Keammar Daley for forward Ryan Johnson.
Breaking the deadlock
Within two minutes, Daley was instrumental in Jamaica breaking the deadlock, flighting a lovely weighted pass over defence to the overlapping Phillips, who cushioned the ball forward before drilling a grounder across Jerez into the far post.
It was all Jamaica from that point, with one weird and another significant occurrence taking place within six minutes.
Guatemala kicked out a ball to get one of their injured players attended to. The referee allowed them to take the throw-in. Then, Cristian Noriega got a second booking for pulling down Richards on the edge of the penalty box and was red-carded.
Guatemala plummeted downhill rapidly and it wasn’t surprising when Phillips netted the second goal for the Reggae Boyz by placing the ball into the far post from seven yards, after Shelton sliced through their defence with a dribble from the flank and made a cutback at the 78th minute.