The Concacaf Gold Cup matches for Group C kicked off at Exploria Stadium in front of 6,403 fans tonight as four countries began their run toward qualification for the knockout stage. The early match pitted Jamaica against first-time Gold Cup participant Suriname, with Costa Rica squaring off against Guadeloupe in the nightcap.
By the end of the night, the favorites had left their mark on Group C, with Jamaica and Costa Rica taking care of business against the Concacaf Nations League C Group D winners and the Concacaf Nations League B Group D winners, respectively.
Jamaica 2, Suriname 0
The Jamaicans wasted no time in getting on the board, scoring on the first shot attempt of the match by either side. After an attack seemed to evaporate after Leon Bailey held the ball too long, cutting back multiple times and opening up shooting lanes, he opted to pass instead. The ball cycled right to left to Shamar Nicholson, who cut in from the left and fired a shot back against the grain that found the inside of the left post to put the Reggae Boyz ahead 1-0 in the sixth minute.
Shamar Nicholson takes the first shot of the game and scores putting Jamaica on top early! pic.twitter.com/3NAz9akfbF— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 12, 2021
Suriname should have leveled the game moments later. Gleofilo Vlijter was sent in behind the Jamaican defense in the eighth minute but he fired his shot just inches wide of Andre Blake’s goal, wasting an excellent opportunity to equalize.
Bobby Decordova-Reid doubled Jamaica’s lead in the 26th minute with a golazo on the volley. A routine ball forward was headed out by the defense but Reid ran onto it and struck it out of the air, giving Suriname goalkeeper Warner Hahn no chance.
What a rocket from Jamaica's Bobby Decordova-Reid! pic.twitter.com/jFpkHbk3Fs— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 12, 2021
Suriname again came close to pulling the goal right back. Sheraldo Becker fired a shot from the top of the area and Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake nearly spilled it into the path of an onrushing Suriname attacker but he double clutched it and hung on in the 29th minute.
That was it for the good scoring chances in the first half and Jamaica took its 2-0 lead into the break. Both teams had three first-half shots, with Jamaica getting all three on frame and Suriname hitting the target twice. Jamaica held 56% of the possession and both teams won two corners and were 85% accurate with their passes.
Nicholson had a chance to put the game to bed in the 51st minute when Alvas Powell fizzed a cross into the box that just needed a touch. Nicholson got his foot on the cross but it squirted off to the side. Nicholson again should have scored in the 60th off a cross from Blair Turgott. He tried to take the shot with his first touch but again failed to make good contact.
Suriname just couldn’t find a breakthrough. Becker sent a free kick over the bar from a dangerous spot just outside the area in the 67th minute. Diego Biseswar sent a shot on target in the 81st but it was no trouble for Blake in the 81st.
Jamaica couldn’t add to its lead either, despite good opportunities for Turgott in the 69th and substitute Junior Flemmings in the 86th minute.
Suriname fired more shots (10-7), but each team got six on target and Jamaica’s were from much more dangerous positions overall. Suriname also won more corners (5-3). Jamaica held 53% of the possession and both teams were 83% accurate with their passes.
Jamaica improved to 5-1-0 in the all-time series against Suriname.
Costa Rica 3, Guadeloupe 1
Like the Jamaicans in the first game, the Ticos jumped on top early. In fact, they scored in the exact same minute.
Goalkeeper Yohann Thuram came off his line to play a routine ball but somehow spilled it in horrific fashion and Joel Campbell slotted it home to give the Ticos the lead in the sixth minute.
It all counts the same, right? Joel Campbell knocks it in for an early lead over Guadeloupe pic.twitter.com/uwXB3Ut9BU— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 13, 2021
Campbell looked to chip Thuram in the ninth minute but the goalkeeper was spared further embarrassment when the shot sailed over the net.
The first decent look for Guadeloupe came in the 17th minute when Mickael Alphonse hit a free kick on target but it didn’t trouble Costa Rica goalkeeper Leonel Moreira. A minute later, Guadeloupe’s Matthias Phaeton tried an audacious strike from distance but hit it over the bar.
Costa Rica doubled the lead in the 21st minute when the Houston Dynamo’s Ariel Lassiter took a pass from Campbell and poked it home to make it 2-0. It was Lassiter’s first Gold Cup goal (and first goal for Costa Rica), and scoring in this competition is something his father — U.S. international Roy Lassiter — never accomplished.
Phaeton took a free kick set up by a Kendall Waston challenge that got the former MLS defender booked. The 43rd-minute free kick attempt was a good one but the curling shot stayed just wide of the far post and Guadeloupe remained without a goal.
Guadeloupe finally got on the board in the dying seconds of the first half.
With Guadeloupe playing a late corner kick short, Alphonse took a short pass and sent a cross into the box that appeared to be too close to Moreira. Just as the Costa Rican goalkeeper seemed about to catch the cross, Raphael Mirval came flying out of the pack and got a foot to it to tap it home and make it 2-1 in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time to make it 2-1. It was just about the last kick of the half.
Guadeloupe scores right before half! pic.twitter.com/QUyN7aX485— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 13, 2021
Shots were 5-4 in Guadeloupe’s favor, with each team getting three on target. Guadeloupe also had a slight edge in passing accuracy (90%-89%). Costa Rica dominated possession (61%-39%) and earned more corners (2-1).
Guadeloupe came out looking for the equalizer and Phaeton put a free kick on the roof of Moreira’s net in the 52nd minute. Unfortunately for his team, Steve Solvet threw a punch during that play and after video review, referee Ismail Elfath sent off the defender, reducing Guadeloupe to 10 men. Solvet became the first player sent off in a Gold Cup match via video review.
Steve Solvet was given a red card for this foul after a second look by VAR pic.twitter.com/HrOEhYAfvS— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 13, 2021
Costa Rica put the match out of reach in the 70th minute. Celso Borges made it 3-1 with a flying volley shot back against the grain after a fantastic cross from the left side by substitute Luis Diaz.
Borges scores in the 70th minute for Los Ticos!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 13, 2021
Costa Rica goes up 3-1 pic.twitter.com/NYYJL4nPPK
That was it for the scoring. Guadeloupe was awarded a penalty but Elfath reviewed the play and changed his ruling, making for a less exciting final 10 minutes.
Costa Rica held on for the 3-1 win and took over the lead in the Group C standings on a goals scored tiebreaker.
The Ticos out-shot Guadeloupe 10-7 (7-3 on target), and had more corners (4-2), and possession (62%-38%). Guadeloupe was a bit sharper in passing accuracy (91%-89%).
Guadeloupe will take on Jamaica on Friday in the early game and Suriname will face Costa Rica in the nightcap at Exploria Stadium.
Group C Standings
Costa Rica: 1-0-0, 3 points, +2 GD
Jamaica: 1-0-0, 3 points, +2 GD
Guadeloupe: 0-1-0, 0 points, -2 GD
Suriname: 0-1-0, 0 points, -2 GD