Reggae Boyz dumped out of 2018 World Cup in Panama

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Reprinted from Jamaica Observer

PANAMA CITY, Panama — Jamaica surrendered meekly in a 0-2 defeat to Group B rivals Panama last night here inside Estadio Rommel Fernandez and were sent packing from CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Panama’s goals came from Gabriel Torres in the 28th minute and substitute Abdiel Arroyo in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.

Panama's Blas Perez (centre) is marked by Jamaica's Jermain Taylor (left) and Lee Williamson during their FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier in Panama City yesterday. (Photo: AFP)
Panama’s Blas Perez (centre) is marked by Jamaica’s Jermain Taylor (left) and Lee Williamson during their FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier in Panama City yesterday. (Photo: AFP)

Panama, who have 10 points, join group leaders Costa Rica (13 points) as the two teams to advance from the group to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.

Jamaica, who have one game remaining against Haiti on Tuesday, have only four points and cannot progress. Haiti, who lost 0-1 at home to Costa Rica in the day’s earlier game, have one point.

 But last night, in Panama, the visitors began in aggressive fashion.

And they were almost rewarded in the sixth minute when Kemar Lawrence’s corner kick glanced off the head of an under-pressure defender and the ball hit the upright only to fall into the grateful grasp of Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

However, by the 10th minute, Panama settled and started to spray short passes all around the Jamaicans.

There were a few warning shots before they took the lead.

When they did, it was after Torres had sneaked behind right-back Je-Vaughn Watson to fire a left footer high past Jamaican custodian Andre Blake.

The rest of the match belonged to the skilful and athletic home side.

They finessed the underwhelming Jamaicans and sealed the deal seconds before the final whistle.

Defender Jermaine Taylor gave away possession to Blas Perez for the striker to lay a pass onto Arroyo to blast a low right-footed effort into the corner of the goal.

And that was dream over for the Reggae Boyz. For Panama, it was the start of celebrations as they step to the next stage of their World Cup quest.

From the CONCACAF final round, which will consist of six teams, the top three countries will earn direct places to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The fourth-placed team gets a second chance for a place to the global football showpiece via an intercontinental play-off.

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