U.S. stunned, Mexico held as final round kicks off

Thu Feb 7, 2013 12:58am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - Olympic champions Mexico made a stuttering start to their bid for a 15th World Cup finals appearance when they were held to a goalless draw by Jamaica at the Azteca Stadium on Wednesday.

The opening three games of CONCACAF's final phase of qualifying witnessed another surprise as Honduras rallied to overcome the United States 2-1, while Costa Rica battled from two goals down to draw in Panama in the other match.

The battle for the region's three automatic spots in Brazil is already shaping as a fascinating one with strong favorites Mexico and the United States likely to feel some early pressure after disappointing performances.

Jamaica produced a superbly disciplined and organized team effort to contain Mexico and scare them on the break, and the Reggae Boyz could well have headed home with all three points.

Reading midfielder Jobi McAnuff should have scored for the visitors in the eighth minute after his initial shot struck the post and he scuffed the rebound into the welcoming arms of Mexico keeper Jose Corona.

Corona was in action again when he tipped a Rodolph Austin effort wide as Jamaica created the chances despite Mexico enjoying the lion's share of possession.

After the break, Jamaica forward Ryan Johnson shot timidly at Corona after breaking through on goal and then it was the turn of Reggae Boyz keeper Donovan Ricketts to spring into action as he twice foiled Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez from close range.

The Mexican crowd turned on their team - booing every touch while cheering on Theodore Whitmore's Jamaicans, who will take great heart from their point.   Continued...

 
Jamaica's Joel McAnuff (top) fights for the ball with Mexico's Francisco Javier Rodríguez during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at Azteca stadium in Mexico City February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido