Football

McAnuff wonder strike held Costa Rica to a 2-2 drew in Gold Cup opener

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Jamaica kick started their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign against last year's World Cup quarter finalists Costa Rica with an exciting 2-2 draw at the Stubhub Center, Carson, California thanks to goals from Garath McLeary and Jobi McAnuff.

A dazzling solo effort from McAnuff early in the second half was enough to earn his team a point in a 'ding dong' battle against Costa Rica.

Jamaica entered the game with their tales high, despite losing all three games in the recently concluded Copa America.

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Deploying a 4-4-2 formation against Costa Rica's 4-3-3, Jamaica was forced to defend most of the first 10 minutes played. Costa Rica enjoyed the lion's share of the ball and toyed around with Jamaica forcing them on the backfoot.

Good start

Jamaica finally got a foothold in the game through some crunching tackles in the middle of the park by captain Rodulph Austin. Kemar "Taxi" Lawrence, still riding on his high octane performances in Chile, put in yet another creditable performance in California, too.

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His physical presence and athleticism forced the Costa Rican players to keep a watchful eye on him. Giles Barnes, though a little isolated at times, proved to be a thorn in the Central Americans defense. His effort towards goal was put into touch in the 13' minute by Gamboa.

Lawrence's resulting long throw bounced over Junior Diaz, to find an unmarked Garath McCleary who volleyed home the opener at the back post. from about eight yards.

The goal gave Jamaica the lift they needed. They managed to maintain possession for some extended periods, as they pressed forward with intent.

Tides turn

As the half wore on, however, the Jamaicans started defending deeper in their half as Costa Rica wrestled back possession in their favor. The 2014 World Cup heroes took control and turned the match around in the space of five minutes.

Goals from Roy Miller and David Ramirez in the 33th and 37th minute put the favourites in control of a match they were expected to win.

The Jamaican defense came under tremendous pressure and as a result a reckless challenge was made on the top of the 'D'. A well worked free kick saw the ball played across the top of the box to Ramirez whose sublime pass flew over the opposition defense for Miller to nod home expertly.

With the scores level Jamaica panicked and failed to deal with a long searching ball from the ex Fulham man David Ruiz which found David Ramirez who lobbed the keeper to round off an exquisite finish as Costa Rica led at the break.

Second half

Schafer's team responded immediately after half time, though.

 The second half was barely two minutes old when they were level through a wonder strike from Jobi McAnuff.

The Letyon Orient player picked up a loose ball in the middle of the park and dribbled past two opponents to get into the box and then poked his shot under Costa Rica goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado to tie the game at 2-2.

The rest of the match saw a raft of chances at both ends, with Johan Venegas almost putting Costa Rica ahead just a minute after McAnuff's goal only for Miller to palm the shot away, while Jamaica substitute Darren Mattocks shot straight at Alvarado after the hour mark.

Final flurry

Jamaica wasted a four-on-two opportunity with four minutes remaining before Costa Rica broke the other way, only for Miller to parry Deyver Vega's shot.

In the 89th minute, Simon Dawkins failed to convert an opportunity directly in front, which would have handed the Jamaicans victory, with Alvarado pulling off another impressive save.

After goals in the 33rd and 37th minutes Costa Rica was enroute to a comfortable victory but the result extended a winless run of six matches, with Paulo Wanchope's men not having tasted victory yet in 2015. Jamaica will next play Canada on Saturday July 11,20015.

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