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New Zealand suffer 3-2 defeat by Jamaica
Jamaica's Reggae Boyz held on to defeat New Zealand 3-2 in a friendly international at Mount Smart stadium in Auckland on Wednesday after taking a healthy lead shortly into the second half.
Jamaica, ranked 70 places above New Zealand at 50th in the world, threatened to outclass their opponents but the All Whites managed to keep the game alive with a late goal before a lively home crowd.
In the end, one first half goal from Xavian Virgo and two in the second from Damian Stewart and Navion Boyd were enough to see Jamaica home against a side that were solid defensively but failed to convert attacking chances.
Jamaica, fresh from two victories over Cuba, squandered an early opportunity when Troy Smith sent a corner looping behind the line.
The All Whites then had a penalty appeal turned down after goalkeeper Dwayne Miller brought down midfielder Jeremy Brockie with a sliding tackle in the box.
With New Zealand, who proved their defensive qualities when they finished as the only unbeaten team at the 2010 World Cup, stifling Jamaica's attackers, captain Jermaine Taylor was reduced to long-range efforts on goal.
Jamaica goalkeeper Miller showed his commitment, taking an accidental boot to the face from New Zealand skipper Ryan Nelsen defending a free kick, but the teams remained evenly matched half an hour in.
The breakthrough came when Jamaica's Je?Vaughn Watson released Virgo down the right wing in the 38th minute, and Virgo shot from outside the box, the ball bending over the head of New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston for the goal.
Jamaica took confidence and looked lively after the break. Damian Stewart tested Paston shortly after play resumed and then finally netted when New Zealand gave away possession cheaply after a Tony Lochhead throw in to make the score 2-0.
But the All Whites immediately hit back. Chris Wood scored with a low shot after a neat one-two with Marco Rojas which caught Jamaica's defence flat-footed.
With New Zealand pressing for the equalizer, Wood had a chance to put the home side on level terms but put his goalmouth header just wide of the post.
Jamaica then pulled further ahead in the 77th minute when Luton Shelton burst through the midfield and put substitute Navian Boyd through with only the keeper to beat.
Chris Killen gave New Zealand some hope, drilling a header past the keeper in the 88th minute but the home side could not break down Jamaica's defence again in four minutes of extra time.
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