Jamaica was the better side in a weather-extended final Gold Cup Group C match-up but Costa Rica somehow came out on top 1-0 to send the Reggae Boyz into the quarterfinals against the United States. Bryan Ruiz scored the only goal of the match against the run of play as the Jamaicans were wasteful with their chances all night.
In the (extremely) late match, it was a battle to finish third in Group D, with Panama topping Grenada, 3-1.
Here’s how it all unfolded at Exploria Stadium in front of a crowd of 10,264:
Costa Rica 1, Jamaica 0
The third match day in Group C got off to a sluggish start, with Jamaica and Costa Rica only playing two minutes and 20 seconds before a lightning strike in close proximity to the stadium halted the proceedings. The game was delayed more than two hours before resuming.
Once the match was back underway, the play seemed to all take place between the two penalty areas.
Tyreek Magee made a great move in the midield to start the sequence that led to the first good look for either side in the match. Magee got through traffic and cycled the ball to the right channel where Blair Turgott sent it across the top of the box. Kemar Lawrence was waiting for it on the left and sent a shot just wide in the 14th minute.
Jamaica putting on the pressure early! pic.twitter.com/abmL53OmGr— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 21, 2021
Turgott fired over the bar in the 35th minute in what was honestly the next decent chance for either side in the match in a half that wasn’t exactly teeming with opportunities. However, Jamaica did well toward the end of the opening period to get a few chances, but couldn’t capitalize.
Andre Gray had a couple of opportunities, but fired a weak left-footed shot right at goalkeeper Leonel Moreira in the 42nd minute and then did better in the 44th to force a good diving save from the goalkeeper.
Junior Flemmings sent a shot at the goalkeeper in stoppage time in the last chance of the half.
Jamaica out-shot Costa Rica 8-1 in the first half (4-1 on target), and led in corners (2-1) and passing accuracy (92%-89%). The Ticos held a slight edge in possession (52%-48%).
Gray should have put Jamaica ahead in the 52nd minute. A well-worked ball out to the left to Lawrence sprung the attack and two passes later, Gray was alone on goal from the right. He smashed a shot that hit the outside of the right post and the chance was wasted, and it was a costly miss.
Just seconds later, a steal on the left by Keysher Fuller, who passed to Ariel Lassiter on the left. Lassiter sent in a perfect cross for Bryan Ruiz to head home to put the Ticos up 1-0 in the 53rd minute. The goal was very much against the run of play.
COSTA RICA GETS ON THE BOARD— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 21, 2021
Costa Rica leads Jamaica 1-0 pic.twitter.com/9uIgc3Lnx2
Daniel Johnson forced a Moreira save in the 64th minute as the Jamaicans kept the pressure on and then a header flashed wide of goal on the ensuing corner kick.
The Ticos nearly put the game away in the 69th minute. Celso Borges got down the right flank and sent in a dangerous cross for Joel Campbell, but the Jamaica defense got there just in time to prevent the goal.
Jamaica caught a break in the 72nd minute. A wayward back pass by Costa Rica resulted in a footrace that Cory Burke won, arriving just before Moreira, who was out of his box. Burke went to touch the ball around the keeper and Moreira stuck out an arm and was sent off for an intentional handball to prevent a scoring chance as the last defender. Esteban Alvarado came off the bench to play in goal the rest of the way for Costa Rica.
In the 80th, Jamaica again fashioned a good chance. Oniel Fisher got down the right and sent a ball across the face of goal. Alvarado got a hand on it but knocked it out in front but just out of the path of the oncoming Burke with a gaping net in front of him.
Lamar Walker sent a free kick from just outside the area over the bar in the 88th minute as Jamaica struggled to test Alvarado or take advantage of the manpower advantage.
After six largely uneventful minuts of stoppage time, during which Flemmings smashed a shot well over the bar from the left with teammates crashing the goal, the Ticos had their third win in as many games.
Jamaica dominated statistically, out-shooting Costa Rica 18-5 (11-3 on target) and earning more corners (6-3), holding more possession (54%-46%), and passing more accurately (94%-88%).
The Reggae Boyz will face the USMNT in the quarterfinals, while Costa Rica will square off against Canada.
Panama 3, Grenada 1
It didn’t take Panama long to jump on top of Grenada, with Alberto Quintero firing home in just the seventh minute.
PANAMA STRIKES FIRST— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 21, 2021
Panama leads Grenada 1-0 pic.twitter.com/Rf0Hu5xYK6
Abdiel Ayarza got in behind in the 15th minute for Panama but goalkeeper Reice Charles Cook got a piece of the shot and the defense was able to clear it off the line before it could sneak in for a second goal.
Jose Rodriguez cut in from the right and nearly curled one inside the post in the 23rd minute as Panama continued to look dangerous. The ball skipped just wide of the upright. But Rodriguez got his goal four minutes later — this time from the left side. He took a pass from Cesar Yanis and smashed a ball from the left corner of the box past Cook to make it 2-0.
Panama strikes again— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 21, 2021
Rodriquez with the beautiful finish pic.twitter.com/y1GhVGatGd
Panama nearly got a third off a set piece in the 37th minute when captain Adolfo Machado’s header fizzed just over the bar.
Grenada finally created a dangerous chance off a set piece in first-half stoppage time. Regan Charles Cook took a short pass on a free kick and sent a curling shot toward the back post. Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon scrambled over and made the save to preserve the two-goal advantage going into halftime.
Panama led in shots (8-1), shots on goal (4-1), possession (67%-33%), and passing accuracy (95%-84%). The teams were even on corner kicks with two apiece.
Gabriel Torres had a golden chance to increase the Panama lead to 3-0 in the 51st minute when he took a pass just below the penalty spot. He turned and fired a shot but Omar Beckles blocked his effort at the last moment.
Rodriguez did manage to get the third in the 64th minute, slashing in from the right and slotting home to make it 3-0 for Panama.
Panama takes a 3 goal lead over Grenada! pic.twitter.com/1QTewjzI3R— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 21, 2021
Three minutes later, it took a good save from Reice Charles Cook to keep the score where it was. Edgar Barcenas slipped in behind and fired toward the near post but the Grenada goalkeeper was sharp on the play.
Grenada finally got its first goal of the tournament in the 74th minute. Romar Frank got in behind the defense, rounded Calderon and fired home to make it 3-1 with a consolation goal for the Spice Boys.
Grenada finds a way to get the ball in the back of the net! pic.twitter.com/NcuXQFPp7C— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 21, 2021
Grenada had a good chance to pull back within a goal shortly after with a free header on a corner kick but the chance was missed. Oliver Norburn came up the left side and forced a late save from Calderon to keep the difference at two goals in the final minutes. That was the last good opportunity for either side and with barely any stoppage time the game came to an end.
Panama out-shot Grenada 14-4 (5-4 on target), held more of the ball (63%-37%), and had a better passing rate (94%-79%). Both teams finished with three corners.
Panama finished on four points to take third in Group D and Grenada finished without any points in fourth place.
That’ll do it for the group stage of the 2021 Gold Cup.
Suriname defeated Guadeloupe 2-1 in Houston to finish third in Group C in a match that started at the same time as Jamaica-Costa Rica but finished before the fourth minute of the game in Orlando.
Group C Final Standings
Costa Rica: 3-0-0, 9 points, +4 GD
Jamaica: 2-1-0, 6 points, +2 GD
Suriname: 1-2-0, 3 points, -2 GD
Guadeloupe: 0-2-0, 0 points, -4 GD
Invitee Qatar grabbed the top of Group D with a 2-0 win over Honduras. Qatar will meet El Salvador in the quarterfinals, with Honduras having to face Mexico. Panama finished third.
Group D Final Standings
Qatar: 2-0-1, 7 points, +5 GD
Honduras: 2-1-0, 6 points, +4 GD
Panama: 1-1-1, 4 points, +1 GD
Grenada: 0-3-0, 0 points, -10 GD