Antonio strike frustrates US in Jamaica draw

Reuters

 

Antonio's 22nd-minute long-range effort cancelled out a superb individual goal by US forward Timothy Weah at Kingston's Independence Park.
 
The US arrived in Jamaica on a high after a 2-0 win over Mexico on Friday in the eight-team final phase of qualifiers for teams from Central America, North America and the Caribbean.
 
But US coach Gregg Berhalter's team were unable to back up that victory with three more points in Kingston after a hard-fought, physical game.
 
A cagey first half saw the US take the lead in the 11th minute with Weah's solo effort.
The 21-year-old Lille forward played a clever one-two with striker Ricardo Pepi before surging into the Jamaican penalty area.
 
Jamaica's Bobby Reid looked to have the danger covered, but Weah showed great strength to win possession before angling a deft shot across goal and in off the far post.
 
It was a fitting reward for a bright start by the US, who also went close on 16 minutes when Pepi's shot was blocked before Brenden Aaronson's follow-up effort was well-saved by Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.
But the complexion of the game changed in Jamaica's favour on 22 minutes when Antonio conjured a goal out of nowhere.
 
Nothing appeared to be on when Antonio picked up the ball in midfield.
 
But the striker cut inside the covering Tyler Adams and then unleashed a ferocious 30-yard effort which flew past US goalkeeper Zack Steffen and into the top corner.
 
The goal infused Jamaica with confidence, although the Reggae Boyz were fortunate to finish the first half with 11 men on the pitch after some rugged defending.
 
Je-Vaughn Watson was booked as early as the eighth minute for a foul on the USA's Gianluca Busio.
Javain Brown was also lucky to stay on the pitch for a wild challenge on Adams in the 40th minute that the US midfielder did well to hurdle.
 
The second half followed a similar pattern, with neither side managing to take control of the contest.
The US received a huge let off in the 53rd minute when a deflected cross fell into the path of Jamaica forward Reid just three yards out.
 
Somehow, however, the Fulham player scooped his shot over the bar and the US survived.
US coach Berhalter introduced Christian Pulisic after 66 minutes but the Chelsea star was unable to break the deadlock.
 
The US received a let off in the 84th minute when Damion Lowe headed into the net from a corner, only to see the goal disallowed for a shove on US defender Walker Zimmerman.
 
The US remain on top of the CONCACAF standings with 15 points from eight games, but Mexico and Canada could overtake them later Tuesday if either side wins their game in Edmonton.

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