(Reuters) - A magnificent long-range free-kick from Luton Shelton gave Jamaica a surprise 2-1 comeback victory over the United States in their CONCACAF region World Cup qualifer on Friday.
Jamaica’s first ever win over the U.S. was thoroughly deserved after they fought back with determination from the early blow of Clint Dempsey’s first minute goal.
The two sides meet again in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday and while both are expected to advance from group one into the six-team final qualifying phase, the pressure is on Juergen Klinsmann’s U.S. team.
Having only drawn their opening game, away to Guatemala before beating Antigua and Barbuda, the U.S. are now second in the group on four points, trailing Jamaica by three.
Dempsey, who recently moved from Fulham to Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League, put the U.S. ahead in just the 36th second, slotting home after Herculez Gomez’s shot was blocked on the line.
But the ‘Reggae Boyz’ drew level in the 24th minute when Rodolph Austin, who also plays in England with second tier Leeds United, struck a low free-kick which took a slight deflection off Kyle Beckerman in the U.S. wall.
It was a scrappy battle for the rest of the first half with the Americans struggling to retain possession in midfield against the hard-working Caribbeans.
Dempsey went close again just before the break when he slid in to meet a Michael Parkhurst cross but Jamaica keeper Dwayne Miller got down well to save.
After the interval, Austin forced American keeper Tim Howard into action with a stinging shot from a full 30 yards out and as the game wore on, the home side grew in confidence.
Jamaica got their reward in the 62nd minute and in spectactular fashion with Shelton unleashing a thundering free-kick which flew into the top corner of Howard’s goal.
Three teams from CONCACAF’s North and Central America and Caribbean region qualify automatically for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. The fourth-placed team from the last phase also has a chance to qualify if they win a play-off against the winner of Oceania’s qualifying.
Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Ian Ransom