Jamaica beats New Zealand 3-2 in friendly

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.”