Boyz qualify for Gold Cup after 1-1 with Mexico in Nations League | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Jamaica and Mexico battled to a 1-1 draw in their League A first-leg fixture of the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League (CNL) game on Tuesday night at the National Stadium in Kingston.

The result means that Jamaica can finish no lower than second place in the group, and thus have qualified for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup.

The top two teams from each group secured automatic spots to the regional showpiece.

The result also kept the Reggae Boyz atop the three-team group with five points from three of their four games.

Mexico are in second place with four points from two of their four games, just a point behind Jamaica.

Suriname are bottom of the group with a point from three of their four games.

The star of the night was Jamaica goalkeeper and 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup Golden Glove winner Andre Blake, who made seven saves on the night to secure a point for his side.

It could not have been a better start for Jamaica, as they raced out to a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute when Shamar Nicholson got loose down the left flank and sent in a cross that found Leon Bailey, who split a pair of Mexico defenders and headed into the net.

Jamaica were hungry for more and they came within a whisker of making it two when a Nicholson header off a corner kick smacked off the crossbar.

Mexico looked to respond and Orbelin Pineda issued a warning when he fired wide left with a right-footed shot in the 21st. That was followed by a hard hit from Kevin Alvarez and a Luis Chavez volley that were each saved by Blake.

The equalizer would final arrive right on the brink of halftime via a strong header from Luis Romo off a free kick to make it a 1-1 affair heading into the break.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair with the first big chance going Mexico’s way through Chavez, whose hard hit in the 74th minute forced a diving save from Blake. Minutes later Diego Lainez almost gave Mexico the lead, but once again Blake proved pivotal.

No winner could be found in the late going, meaning the two sides would have to settle for a share of the spoils to close the Nations League June window.

Jamaica’s final match will be the return leg in Mexico in the March FIFA international window. The game is scheduled for March 26, 2023.