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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The wait was worth it for Canada as Stephen Eustaquio scored late in the second half to give the men’s soccer team a 2-1 win over Jamaica on Saturday in the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal match at Independence Park.
Jonathan David scored the other goal for Canada who had not won in Jamaica in 35 years.
Shamar Nicholson tied the game for Jamaica in the 56th minute on a disputed goal.
Fullback Richie Laryea set up the winning goal, showing his speed with a nice run down the side. He passed the ball back into the box and Eustaquio made no mistake.
The second game in the two-match, aggregate series will be Tuesday at Toronto’s BMO Field.
The winner of the series moves on to the CONCACAF Nations League finals next March, as well as securing a ticket to Copa America as guest teams at the South American championship.
The game was originally scheduled for Friday night but was postponed until Saturday due to heavy rain. It was 28 degrees at kickoff at 10:30 a.m. local time with humidity around 78 per cent. The pitch appeared heavy and sticky, affecting the way the ball moved.
Forward Cyle Larin did the work on David’s goal in first-half extra time. Goaltender Milan Borjan sent a long ball into the Jamaican zone. Larin took the ball, made a pretty spin to get away from two defenders, then sent a pass across the front of the net that David tapped home for his 26th international goal.
Nicholson tied the game when he got behind a surprised Canadian defence on a quick pass from Daniel Johnson and beat Borjan. The offside flag went up but the goal was ruled good following video review.
Canadian players argued the whistle had not blown to start play but referee Mary Penso let the play stand.
Canada, ranked 45th in the world, pressed the No. 55 Reggae Boyz early in the match.
In the eighth minute, David sneaked behind the Jamaican defence and fired a shot that goaltender Andre Blake stopped. Larin then had a good chance from distance late in the half, blasting a ball that a diving Blake got a hand on.
Jamaica’s Leon Bailey had two good scoring chances in the first half. In the 15th minute he fired a ball that just missed the far corner of the net. Later he hit the crossbar off a corner kick from Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
The Jamaican side suffered a blow when forward Michail Antonio, who plays for West Ham United, left the match early in the first half with an injury.
Canada’s record playing in Jamaica improved to 2-6-5.
Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and Costa Rica were given byes to the final eight of the Nations League competition, based on the March 2023 CONCACAF rankings.
Panama, Jamaica, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago advanced through a qualifying round in the September and October international windows.
The quarterfinal losers have a chance to join them, via a single-match elimination play-in in March that will decide the two remaining slots for CONCACAF entries.
NOTES: The Canadian men’s last win in Jamaica was a 4-0 decision on April 5, 1988. … In their last meeting in March 2022, Canada defeated Jamaica 4-0 at BMO field, clinching a World Cup qualification. … Canada’s 23-man roster for the game had 19 players who were part of the World Cup team. … Canada Soccer says over 35,000 tickets have been sold for the Dec. 5 women’s match against Australia in Vancouver which will be Christine Sinclair’s final game in international competition.