Jamaica maintained their 100% record in the Digicel Cup tonight with a comprehensive performance against a strong Guadeloupe side that now assures them of winning Group I and qualifying to the Digicel Cup semi finals.
Jamaica played with the slight advantage of the wind in the first half and were nearly in front after only a minutes play when Dale Richards took advantage of the elements and let fly from all of 20 yards only for his shot to be well saved by an alert Bus in the French goal.
Richards continued to cause a huge amount of trouble down the left and when his cross was met by an inrushing Shelton from the left, his header shaved the far post when it seemed as if the Jamaicans were about to take the lead.
Richards almost went it alone soon after when he won a dash for the ball with French keeper Bus but when he turned to lob the ball back in the direction of the goal, Mocka had managed to scramble back and safely headed the ball away on the line.
Jamaica looked comfortable on the ball and moved it around with confidence and a growing swagger. It seemed more likely they would open the scoring soon but could not under estimate their technically sound opponents.
Guadeloupe were being out matched in most areas of the field but they still had to concede a goal which allowed their confidence grow more as the half wore on. With 4 minutes to half time Gotin had their best chance of the half when he turned and lashed out at his shot from the right side of the goal 8 yards out, but his effort went harmlessly wide and Miller was not troubled.
The French started the second half a lot brighter than they did the first and with Auvray making incise runs into the box they started to look a real threat. On 52 minutes the French should have scored when Mocka played a delicate chipped cross between the Jamaican defence for Auvray to launch himself at the ball with a flying header but his effort went inches past the post.
The Reggae Boyz took their warning seriously and went straight down the other end and scored. That man again Dale Richards was yet again the thorn in the side for the French and his beautiful cross was met 8 yards out with a firm header that Shaun Francis met and planted into the corner. The young Francis turned and celebrated ecstatically in the corner, and rightly so as he notched his first ever senior goal for Jamaica in this his fourth appearance in the famous yellow shirt.
Jamaica were presented a gift to end this match as a contest when on 62 minutes Richards beat everyone to the ball and cut back for top scorer Shelton who somehow blasted over from 5 yards when he seemed destined to extend his lead in his search for the Digicel Golden Boot award.
Guadeloupe kept searching for the equalizer and the introduction of Collet with his wicked left foot added an attacking impetus that the French lacked in the first half. The Jamaicans responded with a calculated substitute of their own with coach Whitmore bringing on the big target man Johnson who was causing all sorts of trouble up front as he combined well with Shelton. Johnson had a chance to finish it off on 88 minutes after his strength saw him through two challenges before he smashed his shot off the legs of Bus in the Guadeloupe goal.
With time running out Guadeloupe had a free kick 20 yards out and well within striking range for dead ball specialist Jean Luc Lamboude. But when his free kick hit the wall, the Jamaicans broke with speed and after the French dallied in possession Johnson took full advantage of their reluctance to clear the ball and gleefully stroked Jamaica’s second goal home in injury time.
The result now assures the Reggae Boyz of qualification to the semi finals of the Digicel Cup and in top spot from Group I no matter what the other results, will mean their automatic qualification to the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011.
Guadeloupe must now win their final game against Antigua and hope that Jamaica keep their 100% record against Guyana.