Soccer

Jamaica beats New Zealand 3-2 in friendly

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP)

Defender Xavian Virgo scored his first international goal as Jamaica beat New Zealand 3-2 on Wednesday in a tightly contested friendly.

Virgo scored against the run of play in the first half to give Jamaica a 1-0 halftime lead.

Goals by Tramaine Stewart and Navion Boyd pushed Jamaica to a 3-1 lead after 77 minutes, but New Zealand kept pressing and closed the gap with a late header from China-based striker Chris Killen.

Bristol City forward Chris Wood earlier scored for the home team, which trailed 2-1 midway through the second half.

The match between 50th-ranked Jamaica and 120th-ranked New Zealand is part of both teams' preparation for World Cup qualifiers in June.

Jamaica begins the third round of CONCACAF qualifying against Guatemala on June 8 while New Zealand will attempt to progress to the next stage of qualifying through the Oceania Nations Cup.

New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen flew home for the match from his new Premier League club Tottenham and was due to return to London immediately after the final whistle.

''Obviously the result didn't go our way but we had a lot of chances and I kind of just didn't think we were clinical enough at both ends of the park,'' Nelsen said.

''We were sloppy defensively, myself included, and let in three soft goals. We got in some nice positions going forward, probably better positions than we normally get in and we could have been more clinical there as well.''

Jamaica recently beat Cuba 1-0 and 3-0 in friendly matches and has a further warmup match against Costa Rica.

Goalscorer Stewart said his team struggled at times Wednesday after having only a short time to acclimatize to a different time zone.

''It was very tough,'' he said. ''The time is very different to Jamaican time but the players played competitively which is very good.

''We didn't think we were in for an easy time, regardless of the rankings. We knew we had to come out tonight and play well, work hard and try to get some early goals and we did that.''



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