June 28 – Jamaica brushed Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago aside in St Louis with a 4-1 win that put them top of Group A.
It was an opportunity for Trinidad to show that they were alive and kicking after a number of years of mismanagement and the imposition of a Normalisation Committee. They had breezed past St Kitts and Nevis in their first game and up against traditional rivals in their second.
It wasn’t going to be a return to the good old days of when Trinidad bossed the Caribbean – both on and off the field.
Jamaica didn’t waste time showing Trinidad and Tobago they are now the boss. Within two minutes Bobby Reid should have out the Reggae Boyz a goal up but slammed the ball into the side netting after being put clear.
The all-Premier League front line of Reid, Antonio, Demarai Gray and Leon Bailey were running rings round a Trinidad defence that were off the pace.
On 13 minutes Gray put them out of their misery with his first goal for Jamaica in his second match. Antonio worked the ball to Bailey who worked it to Gray to slide it past Nicklas Frenderup. So simple they could almost have been playing unopposed.
Five minutes later Bailey, a constant mercurial threat on the wings, had Jamaica’s second. Latching on to a ball over the top he fired in, only to be ruled offside by Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero. VAR stepped in and overruled.
Jamaica were cruising and on 29 minutes Gray scored his second and Jamaica’s third. Again it was the Premier League combination that shredded Trinidad. Losing the ball in defence, Antonio received the ball in the box and battled it across the box to an unmarked Gray to tap in.
The half finished without Trinidad having had a shot at goal.
Against the US the criticism of Jamaica was that they took their foot off the gas and let the US back into the game after missing a penalty and conceding a late equaliser. History looked like it might be about to repeat itself with Jamaica guilty of easing off again at the start of the second half.
A free kick on the edge of Jamaica’s box eventually saw the ball come to Andre Rampersad who hammered home past Andre Blake.
Jamaica were shocked back into action and soon resumed their dominance. Bailey hit the post and then slid the ball wide. The final ball wasn’t falling quite right for the Jamaicans but there was not a great deal to trouble them.
Trinidad almost had another moment of their own when in the 69th minute the referee pointed to the spot claiming a Jamaican handball. VAR stepped in again and overruled. The ref was having as miserable an afternoon as Trinidad.
With Jamaica making subs and their Premier League stars signing shirts in the crowd, the game petered out, but not before Anthony Blackmore added a fourth with a shot two minutes into added time that took a deflection past Frenderup.
Jamaica still need to beat St Kitts and Nevis to qualify for the knock out rounds. At this point their biggest threat looks to be their own concentration.
Trinidad have to regroup fast. They can expect the same treatment again against a US team that might not have the same talent up front as Jamaica, but will come with a lot of grunt.
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