Two goals forward Dever Orgill and a third from Damion Lowe steered Jamaica to an exciting 3-2 win over Honduras in the historic CONCACAF Gold Cup match at the National Stadium in Kingston on Monday night.

El Salvador are off and running in the CONCACAF Gold Cup’s Group C after playing to a 1-0 win against Curacao inside Jamaica’s National Stadium in Kingston. 

Chile's bid for a third straight Copa America title started with a 4-0 win over guests Japan in Sao Paulo on Monday.

Eduardo Vargas scored a second-half brace to go with goals from Erick Pulgar and Alexis Sanchez as the two-time defending champions claimed a comfortable win in Group C.

Japan, who have taken a youthful squad to the tournament, had their chances but lacked a cutting edge.

Pulgar's header and Vargas' deflected strike set up the win, before the latter scored again after Sanchez's effort as Chile joined Uruguay on three points in the group.

Japan made the better start with Takefusa Kubo, signed by Real Madrid last week, central to their energetic opening.

Kubo curled a free-kick over in the seventh minute, before Naomichi Ueda headed a corner straight at Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias soon after.

Chile grew into the encounter as Sanchez fired two attempts off target just after the half-hour mark.

They would be rewarded for their period of dominance with the opener, Pulgar heading in a Charles Aranguiz corner in the 41st minute.

Japan almost responded immediately, but Ayase Ueda scuffed a shot wide from an angle after rounding Arias, while Sanchez headed a cross straight at Keisuke Osako at the other end on the stroke of half-time.

Chile doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half through Vargas, whose strike from the edge of the area took a deflection and went in after a Mauricio Isla cutback for his 37th international goal.

Again, Ayase Ueda squandered a chance to respond, firing wide at the back post after a cross from Gaku Shibasaki.

Kubo also had an opportunity after the hour-mark, bursting into the box before shooting into the side-netting from a slight angle as Japan looked for a way back into the game.

Instead, Chile sealed their win in the closing stages through goals from Sanchez and Vargas.

Sanchez headed in a cross from Aranguiz before playing in Vargas, who lobbed Osako after the goalkeeper's rash decision to rush out.

 

What does it mean? Winning start but work to do for Chile

Taking three points was the key for Reinaldo Rueda's men, but there is plenty of room for improvement. They started the encounter scrappily before building into it, which they will hope is a sign of things to come.

Vargas goes past Salas

Vargas has consistently delivered for Chile and his goals were his 37th and 38th at international level. He went past Marcelo Salas and into second on the nation's goalscoring list, moving within four of Sanchez (42).

Kubo shows glimpses for Japan

Most of Japan's good moments came thanks to Kubo, who signed a six-year deal with Madrid last week. He almost set up Ayase Ueda after a nutmeg down the left in the first half and his excellent touch and left foot showed why he has been described as the 'Japanese Lionel Messi', although he squandered a good chance in the second half.

What's next?

Chile's campaign continues against Ecuador on Friday, while Japan take on Uruguay on Thursday.

Luis Suarez would seemingly welcome Neymar back to Barcelona, recalling one of the best years of his career alongside the Brazilian and Lionel Messi.

Neymar, 27, is linked with a return to the LaLiga champions, two years after making a €222million switch to Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazil international spent four seasons at Barca before his move, including winning a treble in 2014-15.

Suarez said he would be happy to see Neymar, who is sidelined with an ankle injury, back at Camp Nou.

"I was privileged to fulfil one of the best years of my life as a football player at Barcelona next to the best in the world, Messi, and the second best in the world, Neymar," the Uruguay international told RAC1 on Monday.

"For me, it was one of the best moments I've ever lived, won the treble."

Suarez added: "Who would not want to enjoy players like Ney?

"But he belongs to PSG and these are things that are always talked about during the market."

As expected, Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey will start for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz when they open their historic CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign at the National Stadium in Kingston on Monday night (8:30 pm, 9:30 pm Eastern Caribbean).

The nation of Jamaica helps kick off the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup with a stellar match that features its national team square up against Honduras in Group C action at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

The two are no strangers, as Monday’s encounter marks the 24thoverall meeting between the nations. This will be the fifth Gold Cup meeting, with each side holding two wins.

After finishing second in 2015 and 2017, Jamaica will hope third time’s the charm and could not ask for a better start than to play in front of its home fans.

Goalkeeper Andre Blake and defender Kemar Lawrence return to guide the sixth-youngest squad of the tournament.

One of Jamaica’s promising additions comes in the form of 21-year-old Leon Bailey, who has scored 14 goals with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.

Honduras will have plenty to say about its own title hopes as it looks to reclaim the consistency that took it to semifinal appearances at the 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions.

After failing to generate a team goal at the previous edition, Honduras will lean on the attacking trio of Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Anthony Lozano to make its mark at this year’s event.

Roma branded the accusations made by Francesco Totti in a parting shot at the club "fanciful and far from reality".

Totti officially stepped down as a director of Roma on Monday, bringing an end to his 30-year stay in the Italian capital.

Speaking at an explosive press conference to explain the reasons behind his exit, the former captain hit out at the Serie A side for not taking his views into consideration during his two-year stint in the position.

"I never had the chance to express myself," Totti told reporters. "They never involved me. The first year that can happen but by the second [year] I understood what they wanted to do.

"They knew of my desire to offer a lot to this squad but they never wanted it. They kept me out of everything. It's a day that I hoped never would have come."

Roma released a statement on their official website to respond to Totti's claims, reiterating the 42-year-old chose to resign instead of taking up a new role as technical director - as revealed by American owner James Pallotta last week.

"The club is extremely disappointed to learn that Francesco Totti has announced that he has decided to leave the club and not take up the position of technical director of Roma," the statement read. "We offered this role to him after Monchi's exit, for which we were awaiting his answer.

"We believed that the role offered to Francesco is one of the most senior positions at the club and obviously requires total dedication and commitment, something that is expected of all senior managers within the club.

"We were prepared to be patient with Francesco and help him achieve the transition from being a great footballer into a great manager. To demonstrate this commitment to Francesco, the role of technical director was offered to him - a role that we believed he could grow into and one in which we offered to support him in while he adapts.

"While we understand how hard it must be for him to take this decision to leave AS Roma after 30 years, we believe that his perception of the facts and decisions made at the club are both fanciful and far from reality."

A month on from Daniele De Rossi announcing his exit, Totti also suggested Romans have been forced out of the Stadio Olimpico since Pallotta took over in 2011.

And the one-club man made clear he would consider a return should there be a change of ownership further down the line.

The club statement continued: "Regarding the repeated references to a possible comeback with a new ownership, combined with information about interested parties collected by him around the world, we hope that this was not meant to be an inappropriate anticipation of a takeover attempt of the club, a scenario that would be very sensitive as Roma is a listed company. 

"The club's investor group have absolutely no intention of putting Roma up for sale, now or in the future. We wish Francesco only good luck with what he decides to do next."

Barcelona midfielder Arthur and new Real Madrid man Eder Militao should be available for Brazil's second Copa America match against Venezuela in Bahia.

Arthur, 22, has shaken off knee pain and could reportedly replace Fernandinho in Tite's starting XI, while defender Militao is back in training following a hip issue.

Neither player featured as Brazil secured an ultimately comfortable 3-0 victory over Bolivia in the tournament opener.

Philippe Coutinho's brace and a fine late strike from substitute Everton helped to pacify the home fans after a goalless first half prompted jeers.

Tite subsequently encouraged his players to "understand" the criticism and captain Dani Alves accepted the challenge of meeting high expectations.

"Every time we put on that shirt, we have to prove we can wear it," Alves said.

"We represent a historical selection, respected throughout the world. We always have to carry that responsibility. We have to defend this story with great honour."

Brazil should have the chance to click into top gear against Venezuela, a team they have beaten in six of seven Copa America meetings.

Rafael Dudamel's men disappointed in a drab 0-0 draw against Peru, creating few scoring chances despite being able to call on Salomon Rondon, while Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez was an unused substitute. 

Luis Mago's dismissal for two yellow cards in that match leaves Venezuela needing to find an alternative at left-back.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil - David Neres

Ajax's Neres will hope to have another opportunity to cement a starting berth with Brazil after falling to the fringes of the Bolivia match. More performances like the ones he delivered during the Champions League could beef up his price tag, with Premier League side Everton reportedly keen to unite him with compatriot Richarlison.

Venezuela - Jhon Murillo

Barely seen in his 84 minutes against Peru, Venezuela need more from winger Murillo in order to trouble Brazil. The 23-year-old Tondela attacker has the pedigree to make an impact: he has already scored international goals against Argentina and Mexico in 2019.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Brazil have won 21 of their 24 meetings with Venezuela in all competitions, with two 0-0 draws and a 0-2 defeat in a friendly match in 2008.

- Philippe Coutinho scored a brace and was the Brazil player with the most shots attempted (five), chances created (four) and tackles (seven) in their opening game against Bolivia.

- Brazil have kept seven consecutive clean sheets in Copa America matches played on home soil (W5 D2); the last time they conceded a goal at home in the competition was against Venezuela in 1989 (Brazil won 3-1).

- Venezuela have faced the hosts of a Copa America tournament 14 times, losing each of those 14 games by an aggregate score of 4-61.

The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup breaks new ground as the Group C encounter between Curaçao and El Salvador marks the tournament debut at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

The two teams meet again after facing each other in group action in the 2017 edition – a match El Salvador won 2-0 on its way to the quarterfinals.

Monday’s match is the second time the two sides have met at the Gold Cup after Curacao made their debut in the competition two years ago. The two nations have met seven previous times, with four going El Salvador’s way, while the other three ended in draws.

El Salvador Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos returns to the Gold Cup after managing the team at the 2007 and 2009 editions. He will likely look to Nelson Bonilla and Oscar Ceren, the country’s top scorers in Concacaf Nations League Qualifying, to help the team off on the right track.

Curacao will be looking for their first favorable result in the competition after going winless in their maiden voyage. Manager Remko Bicentini believes his team can be the surprise of the tournament and has called on 12 returning players from the 2017 roster.

Bayer Leverkusen have signed defender Daley Sinkgraven from Ajax.

The left-back has signed a contract until 2023 with the Bundesliga side, who have made him their third signing of the close-season ahead of a return to the Champions League in 2019-20.

Leverkusen brought in midfielder Kerem Demirbay from Hoffenheim and winger Moussa Diaby from Paris Saint-Germain, the latter filling the void left by Julian Brandt's move to Borussia Dortmund.

Sinkgraven was part of the Ajax side that won the Eredivisie and KNVB Beker double in 2018-19 while also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The 23-year-old made 11 appearances in all competitions last season, though he started just once.

He joins Frenkie de Jong in leaving Ajax, who are also expected to lose Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek from the side that stunned Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the last four.

Sinkgraven reunites with former Ajax coach Peter Bosz at the BayArena, with sporting managing director Rudi Voller confident his versatility will be a huge asset to Leverkusen.

"Daley was turned into a left-back in Amsterdam under Peter Bosz but he can also play in central midfield and wide on the flanks," Voller said.

"His versatility gives us further options. That is extremely important in terms of the opportunity to rotate with such a large number of games ahead of us."

Sinkgraven added: "Leverkusen have consistently been one of the best clubs in the Bundesliga for many years.

"I'm looking forward to playing in this league and, of course, to the challenges in the Champions League."

 

A brace from Frantzdy Pierrot allowed Haiti to showcase experience with a 2-1 win over Bermuda on Sunday evening at the Estadio Nacional of Costa Rica to open Group B of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

After both teams had a 50-50 ball possession for the first half, Bermuda responded with a total of two shots on target before the breaking the deadlock at the end of the first half. One minute was added when Dante Leverock found the back of the net with a header which was assisted by Osagi Bascome in the 45+1’.

Haiti looked to mount a comeback as the second half started with a very fast pace, which is when Pierrot waited for his chance, burying a shot in the 54’ with a header from the right side of the six-yard box allowing Haiti to tie the match.

Twelve minutes later Frantzdy was back at it in the 66’ with a right-footed shot that went straight to the center of the goal.

The historical night in Costa Rica was then capped by the Haiti defense finishing the match to pocket Les Grenadiers’ first three points of the Gold Cup.

Benfica have vehemently denied teenage star Joao Felix is on the cusp of completing a €120million move to Atletico Madrid.

Reports in Spain on Monday indicated that Atleti had triggered Felix's release clause and were set to announce the signing.

The 19-year-old is believed to be wanted by Europe's top clubs after scoring 20 competitive goals during an exceptional debut season in Benfica's senior squad.

Benfica insist no agreement is in place with any club, describing the reports as "fake news" in a statement issued on their website.

The Primeira Liga outfit further refuted claims that agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo, stands to make a considerable sum for arranging Felix's purported switch to LaLiga.

"In view of the news published in these last hours, Benfica clarifies that it is false that any negotiation process is currently underway regarding a possible transfer of the player Joao Felix," the statement read.

"The conditions for his negotiation are public and known, taking into account the termination clause defined in the amount of €120million.

"More serious, and that which deserves our most vehement repudiation and denial, is the fake news that refers to negotiations that involve commissions of 30 per cent and which, unfortunately, was echoed in Portugal by the newspaper A Bola, with intentions and goals that we do not understand.

"We repeat: this information is totally false, absurd and has clear intentions for the reputation and dignity of Benfica."

Should Joao Felix eventually find his way to Atleti, it would likely be as Antoine Griezmann's replacement, the France forward having made clear his desire to leave the Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Maradona slammed Argentina after their Copa America defeat to Colombia, claiming Tonga could beat Lionel Scaloni's side.

There was yet more international disappointment for Lionel Messi on Saturday as his side lost to goals from Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata in Salvador.

Argentina have reached four of the past five Copa America finals, losing them all, but will need to improve in their remaining Group B games against Paraguay and Qatar if they are to reach the showpiece in Brazil.

Maradona, who inspired Argentina to glory at the World Cup in 1986, was unimpressed with the lack of physicality on show against Carlos Queiroz's Colombia.

"You realise that Tonga can beat us," Maradona told TyC Sports. 

"There is a prestige that we built with kicks, with punching." 

Argentina are seeking their first major international title since 1993.

Bolivia coach Eduardo Villegas hit back at social media criticism ahead of their second Copa America outing against Peru, adamant fans cannot expect immediate results from an unfamiliar squad after losing to Brazil.

La Verde were comprehensively beaten 3-0 in their Copa opener, offering precious little in attack as Tite's men took charge of Group A.

Although expectations of Bolivia were low, the performance did not see them put up much of a fight and the team were the subject of significant criticism of social media platforms.

But Villegas thinks Bolivia are being harshly judged, particularly given how inexperienced his squad is, with only five members of the selection having 25 or more caps to their name.

Speaking to Deporte Total ahead of Tuesday's clash with Peru in Rio de Janeiro, Villegas said: "I hope the people who write on social networks get good information from people who understand football, from specialists, and that they explain you cannot have results so soon when it is a different selection.

"I am convinced this group will evolve, but everything is step by step. We cannot jump two steps because we will fall.

"We are analysing all the options. We know Peru will not be Brazil and we are going to commit people [to attack], or try, to generate more depth than we had against Brazil. I see the group well motivated and with intentions to improve."

Peru's start to the campaign was less crushing, though hardly impressive, as they drew 0-0 with Venezuela in a match sorely lacking quality.

Ricardo Gareca's men were considered favourites to join Brazil in progressing from Group A, though the stalemate against Venezuela puts them in a slightly trickier position than they would have hoped.

But Andre Carrillo insists they are not feeling the pressure, and is confident they have the weapons to secure progression.

"There is no pressure, there is motivation," Carrillo told reporters at Peru's training base. "People have come to support us and we have more desire to go on to the field and win the game to move to the next phase.

"We're going to continue with the weapons we have. The team was good offensively, but we're going to have to create more chances.

"I think we're going to do what we have to do and we're going to work tactically well."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bolivia – Edwin Saavedra

Quiet against Brazil, Villegas will hope Saavedra is livelier in an eminently more winnable match. An explosive and decisive player on his day, the midfielder – who was formerly a full-back – will be expected to help provide the service to main striker Marcelo Martins.

Peru – Jefferson Farfan

With Villegas suggesting Bolivia will play on the front foot, Peru should have a lot more attacking space to work with and exploit. Farfan, as one of the more experienced players in the team, will be expected to provide the craft to punish La Verde.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Peru are unbeaten against Bolivia in Copa America games on neutral territory, winning four and drawing two of their six previous meetings.
- Bolivia have lost each of their past six Copa America games, conceding 18 goals and scoring just three.
- Peru are unbeaten in their last six Copa America games (W3 D3), their joint-longest such run in the competition's history (W5 D1 between 1937 and 1939).
- Bolivia have kept only one clean sheet in their past 22 Copa America games (W1 D7 L14), a 0-0 draw against Mexico in 2015.

Costa Rica’s attack led the way to a 4-0 victory over Nicaragua as it kicked off its participation in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday night at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica went ahead early on the scoreboard when just seven minutes into the match Bryan Oviedo poked it home to get a 1-0 lead.

With Costa Rica playing at home for the very first time in a Gold Cup match, Los Ticos captain Celso Borges doubled the side’s lead to 2-0 with a strong strike in the 19’.

Then Elias Aguilar found himself at the right place and the right time shortly before halftime, as he made it 3-0 in the 46’ when he found the back of the net with a free kick.

Nicaragua who had several opportunities during the first half, but was not able to finish its chances. It continued to push until the final minutes with its best look in the 72’ from Jorge Betancur’s right-footed shot from the right side, but it was blocked by Costa Rica GK Leonel Moreira.

As the final minutes played out, Costa Rica’s attack continued to push forward for one last goal. MF Allan Cruz scored his first of the night in the 75’ to put the 4-0 on the scoreboard, which marked an unforgettable night for Los Ticos.

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