Action from the World Cup qualifier between host Jamaica and Costa Rica (red jersey) on March 25, 2016, in Kingston. (Photo: LMA Action Photos)
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Costa Rica (2W-1D-0L, 7 points) retained sole possession of first place in Group B thanks to a 1-1 draw with host Jamaica (1-1-1, 4) in a CONCACAF qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday night at the National Stadium.
Although the Ticos didn’t win for the first time in three fourth-round matches, they maintained a three-point advantage over Jamaica and Panama, which played Haiti (0-1-2, 1) to a scoreless stalemate in Port-au-Prince.
The Jamaicans took the lead in the 16th minute, when the excellent Kemar Lawrence delivered a left-sided cross to the right corner of the six-yard box, where a diving Je-Vaughn Watson bounced a header past goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Four minutes before the break, Clayton Donaldson nearly doubled the advantage, only to miss connecting on a right-sided cross while sliding at the left post.
In the 56th minute, Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez subbed in Christian Bolaños for Ronald Matarrita. That introduction and subsequent tactical adjustments changed the game’s flow.
Eleven minutes after his introduction, Bolaños unleashed a shot from near the top of the box of that goalkeeper Andre Blake did well to save, but not control. The ball rolled to the left for the unmarked Jhonny Acosta, a defender, to slot home from six-yards out for his second career international goal.
Jamaica will look for its third straight away win in qualifying on Tuesday, when the sides square off again at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose.