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Gold Cup Recaps: Jamaica, Costa Rica use early goals to secure victories in Group C

The two Group C favorites built up multi-goal leads in the first half to establish themselves at the top of the standings.

SOCCER: JUL 12 Concacaf Gold Cup - Jamaica v Suriname Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Both Jamaica and Costa Rica used fast starts to build two goals leads in the first half as the Group C favorites both notched tournament opening victories in Orlando.

The offensive breakout was particularly important for Costa Rica, who had struggled for goals since the restart of international play last fall for the COVID pandemic.

But the first match of the night was Jamaica and Suriname, and it was the Reggae Boyz who struck first via Shamar Nicholson in just the sixth minute, with his run across the top of the box followed by a dragged shot back to the far post to beat keeper Warner Hahn.

Suriname nearly answered right back, with Gleofilo Vlijter getting behind the defense only for a sprawling Andre Blake to deflect the ball just past the post. Twenty minutes after the opener, Jamaica added a second when Fulham’s Bobby Decordova-Reid unleashed a wicked volley off a headed clearance from Suriname’s Ryan Donk and rocketed into the back of the net.

Suriname added a few second half shots on target but overall were just 3 of 10 on the night with most of their shots coming from distance and never testing Andre Blake besides Vlijter’s early run. Jamaica’s stout and organized defense did the rest, securing a 2-0 victory.

In the night cap, Costa Rica was looking for their first win of the calendar year and capitalized early on a mistake from Guadeloupe’s keeper Yohann Thuram.

Also starting off in the sixth minute, a Costa Rican cross from midfield was redirected into the penalty area towards Ticos forward Joel Campbell. However, Thuram was initially alert to the danger and off his line but failed to secure the ball and Campbell collected and slotted home from the top of the area for the opener.

In the 20th minute it was Campbell again, this time making a darting run into the box and collecting an exquisite cross from current FC Cincinnati winger Ronald Matarrita. While under pressure he was able to touch the ball between Thuram and a defender for Ariel Lassiter to score his first international goal with a tidy close range finish.

Guadeloupe would get a life line though, when deep into first half stoppage time striker Raphael Mirval got a high boot onto a corner kick at the near post and tucked home a tricky corner that seemed to catch Costa Rica off guard and cut the deficit in half at the stroke of halftime.

The comeback effort however was dealt a serious blown in the 54th minute when Guadeloupe centerback Steven Solvet was dismissed for violent conduct following a free kick. Solvet was up in Costa Rica’s penalty area and as the ball was sailing up and over the goal, unleashed a kidney punch onto a defender that was picked up by Chris Penso in the VAR booth. Center referee Ismail Elfath went to the monitor and rightly returned with Solvet’s marching orders.

Against 10 men, Costa Rica found their insurance goal in the 70th when Celso Borges crushed a first time volley from a Luis Diaz cross on the left hand side into the net for the final 3-1 scoreline. Borges’ appearance made him Costa Rica’s all time leader in Gold Cup matches.

Jamaica and Costa Rica sit atop Group C with three points apiece. Group C action resumes this Friday, July 16th from Orlando with Guadeloupe and Jamaica at 630pm followed by Suriname and Costa Rica at 830pm.