Costa Rica and Jamaica delivered an exciting, tight game, but in the end, it was Costa Rica who took the 1-0 win and top spot in Group C on Tuesday night at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

The game was delayed a little over two hours due to inclement weather, but it had no effect on the explosiveness and pressure both Costa Rica and Jamaica showed within the first few seconds of the match. Neither side wasted any time in starting to look for a goal.

For the first 15 minutes, it was an intense back and forth with some dangerous shots close to the goal that had the fans on edge, but no goals were scored.

The Costa Rica goal was under attack from the Jamaicans during the final minutes of the opening half, but Costa Rica GK Leonel Moreira denied Jamaica from opening the scoring.

It was the same story into the second half, with Jamaica probing for a goal, and in the 51’, Jamaica forward Andre Gray blasted a shot straight onto the post.

Costa Rica answered almost immediately with a play that started with a slide tackle win for the Ticos and a flawless pass from  Ariel Lassiter into the box that found Costa Rican captain Bryan Ruiz heading into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to Costa Rica in the 53rd.

Things got complicated for the Ticos in the 72nd when Moreira got a straight red card for a handball outside the box, leaving Costa Rica with 10 men with at least 20 minutes left in the match.

The Reggae Boyz continued to attack and pressure in Costa Rica’s half looking to score again and again, but with no luck, leaving Costa Rica as the group winner.

 

Sixteen-year-old Tina Clayton produced the most outstanding performance over the weekend (9-11) as her team Jamaica dominated the NACAC U23 and U18 Championships, the first of the area’s regional events in 17 months.

Clayton improved her 100m personal best from 11.25 to 11.17 to claim gold in the U18 category. Despite her impressive time, the best by world ranking standards, the mark was not among the 17 championship records broken at Costa Rica’s National Stadium. Her countrywoman and 2018 world U20 champion Briana Williams kept her 11.11 time clocked at the previous edition in Mexico in 2019.

A world leader among U18 athletes, Clayton’s 11.17 places her third-fastest among U20 athletes in 2021, behind fellow Jamaicans Williams (10.97) and Ackera Nugent (11.09).

Two other 16-year-old Jamaicans also left their mark in San Jose. Alana Reid ran 23.78 for 200m gold and became the first U18 woman to break 24 seconds at the championships. Reid also anchored her team to the 4x100m title in 45.49. She was joined by 100m silver medallist Serena Cole, Clayton and Kerrica Hill.

World leader Jaydon Hibbert broke the 16-metre barrier with a 16.02m leap in the triple jump, a 34cm improvement on his previous best.

The world’s fastest U20 sprint hurdler and fourth-fastest ever, Nugent, returned to the regional event where she placed second in the U18 category and to the same stadium where she claimed silver at the Pan American U20 Championships in 1999. The 2021 NCAA bronze medallist easily dominated the 100m hurdles in 13.64, despite a strong headwind of -2.2m/s.

Sprint hurdler Orlando Bennett (13.65), 400m specialist Charokee Young (52.06) and long jumper Shakwon Coke (7.88m into a -2.6m/s wind) also shone for Jamaica, all in the U23 category. Alicke Cranston also impressed with his 10.42 winning time in the 100m.

Alexander Ogando, member of the bronze medal-winning team for the Dominican Republic at the 2021 World Athletics Relays in Poland, impressed on the final day by winning the 200m in 20.59, just 0.05 shy of his personal best. Ogando, who has run 45.01 for 400m, will be a key piece in his country’s mixed relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

With the CARIFTA Games suspended two consecutive years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional championships opened an elusive competitive opportunity for U20 athletes in the region. Eighteen-year-old Bahamian Camille Rutherford took the sprint double in 11.36 and 23.42, a personal best at the longer distance.

National record-holder and Tokyo-bound Jonathan Jones won one of the five gold medals for Barbados by covering the one-lap race in 46.20, in a close battle with Jamaica’s 2018 world U20 silver medallist Christopher Taylor, who was second with 46.58. Taylor is also qualified for the Summer Games.

Shiann Salmon, Taylor, 100m silver medallist Odaine Mcpherson and Young joined their efforts to set a new standard of 3:20.71 in the mixed relay, contested for the first time at the championships. Their Jamaican teammates Kishay Rowe, Roshawn Clarke, Oneika Brissett and Delano Kennedy set the new time of 3:25.27 in the U18 category.

 Juan Diego Castro led the home team with a victory in the 800m in 1:48.82. Fourth at the 2017 World U18 Championships, he has improved his national record in both the 800m and 1500m. His 17-year-old compatriot Sharon Lisseth Herrera set a meeting record in the 5000m race walk with 23:18.14.

In the same event, Guatemala’s Yasury Betzayda Palacios rewrote the record books with a 22:31.13 effort in the U23 category. In total 13 records were broken, plus the two mixed relays.

With 61 athletes, Jamaica dominated the medal tally with 67 medals (39 gold, 18 silver and 10 bronze), ahead of the host nation (19-20-23=62) and Bahamas (17-18-7=42). All 19 participating nations won at least one medal. Due to Covid restrictions, some regional powerhouses did not attend, including the United States, Canada, Cuba and Mexico.

A fully fit Leon Bailey has been included in Jamaica’s 23-man squad named today for the 2021 Gold Cup competition in the United States.

A youthful United States side had no trouble with Costa Rica on Wednesday, rolling to a 4-0 friendly victory at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. 

USA head coach Gregg Berhalter made nine changes from the side that defeated Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League final on Sunday, naming a starting XI with an average age of 23 years, 278 days. 

With stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie resting on the bench, two USA players scored their first international goals in a match that was never in doubt. 

Brenden Aaronson opened the scoring after eight minutes, rushing into the area to drive a rebound past Leonel Moreira after Daryl Dike's shot attempt was blocked by a Costa Rica defender. 

Three minutes before the interval, Dike slipped behind the Costa Rica defense and eased a shot past the onrushing Moreira for his first international goal and a 2-0 USA lead at the break. 

Early in the second half, Reggie Cannon opened his international account as well, slotting home a left-footed shot after intercepting a careless Costa Rica pass. 

Moments after coming on as a substitute in the 75th minute, 18-year-old Gio Reyna drew a penalty on a foul by Keysher Fuller in the box and converted for his fourth USA goal. 

Ethan Horvath got the start in goal for the USA on his 26th birthday after his stunning 120th-minute penalty save on Mexico's Andres Guardado on Sunday and turned in a clean sheet. 

Costa Rica are now winless in their last 11 matches (2D, 9L) dating to a 2-1 victory over Curacao in November 2019. 

Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was the hero as El Tri prevailed 5-4 on penalties against Costa Rica to set up a showdown with rivals the United States in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final.

After Thursday's semi-final ended 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes, Ochoa produced the decisive save in the shoot-out to deny Allan Cruz in Denver and send Mexico through to the blockbuster final on Sunday.

CONCACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico – missing injured star Raul Jimenez – drew a blank across 90 minutes and had missed their first penalty via Uriel Antuna.

Hirving Lozano, Orbelin Pineda, Alan Pulido, Luis Romo and Jesus Gallardo all converted their ensuing spot-kicks, after Oscar Duarte missed for Costa Rica, before Ochoa's crucial intervention diving to his right to save Cruz's effort.

The win continues Mexico's dominance over Costa Rica, winning all three shoot-outs and their past nine encounters, dating back to 2013.

Lozano almost spectacularly opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a right-foot overhead kick, which hit the crossbar after a touch from Leonel Moreira – who was deputising for absent Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Diego Lainez came close for Mexico with a drilled shot going narrowly wide 12 minutes later against Costa Rica.

Costa Rica created chances of their own, with former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell setting up Keysher Fuller for an angled shot which was blocked by Ochoa.

Bryan Ruiz and Costa Rica team-mate Campbell combined, with the crafty Alonso Martinez shooting off target on his left foot on the half-hour mark.

Mexico almost broke the deadlock shortly before half-time after a clever dummy from Henry Martin opened up a side-foot chance for Hector Herrera but Moreira was up to the task.

Martinez muscled his way into the box but blazed a deflected shot wide after the break, while Herrera produced a powerful 57th-minute strike from range which stung Moreira's palms, before the game went to penalties.

Hirving Lozano's last-gasp header earned Mexico a 1-0 friendly victory over Costa Rica on Tuesday.

Costa Rica's goal lived a charmed life throughout the meeting in Austria, though it appeared Keylor Navas and company had done enough to keep Mexico at bay.

Indeed, Mexico's luck seemed out when Lozano and Orbelin Pineda both hit the crossbar in the 73rd minute, either side of Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Navas making a superb stop on the line to deny Hector Moreno.

Yet fortune ultimately favoured Gerardo Martino's side – who had 18 attempts but only hit the target three times – with Lozano turning in Luis Romo's flick-on in the 89th minute before a dreadful miss from Allan Cruz at the other end settled the contest.

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