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


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


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


”It was very tough,” he said. ”The time is very different to

Jamaican time but the players played competitively which is very


”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.”