Nicaragua claimed first-leg advantage over Jamaica with an unexpected 3-2 victory over Jamaica in their CONCACAF first-leg World Cup Qualifying football match at the National Stadium last night.
The visitors surged to a shock 2-0 lead at half-time and with just a minute gone in the second half, Luis Molina scored to hand his team a handsome 3-0 lead.
Darren Mattocks (68th) and Adrian Mariappa (78th) put back some life into the Jamaican crowd, scoring two goals inside 10 minutes to cut the deficit to 2-3.
They had been booing their players before the goal, especially central defender Michael Hector.
However, the goals brought cheers, none of which could have made the equaliser against a Nicaraguan team that defended stubbornly and had their goalkeeper to thank for some inspired saves.
Jamaica got off to a slow start and found themselves two goals behind inside the first 10 minutes.
Captain Manuel Rosas gave Nicaragua the lead at the fourth minute, scoring a penalty while sending goalkeeper Andre Blake the wrong way, after Kemar Lawrence handled the ball inside the box.
Within six minutes, Carlos Chavarria doubled the lead when sent clear with the Jamaican defence caught badly out of position on the counter.
He hit a grounder across Andre Blake that careened off the far post into the goal.
Jamaica almost halved the deficit at the 13th when Demar Phillips, effective on the left, passed to Rodolph Austin, who smashed powerfully at goal.
However, goalkeeper Justo Lorente proved equal to the task and pushed the ball over the bar.
Phillips provided an even better opportunity with another cross from the left to Simon Dawkins, but the unmarked midfielder had more time than he thought and put his shot over the bar.
Jamaica got stronger as the half progressed and moved into a position of clear dominance.
Significantly, they could not transfer that advantage into a goal against opponents whose size provided much deceit to their physical play.
The Reggae Boyz now have it all to do in the second-leg away tie in Managua, in the qualifying series for the 2018 World Cup Final in Russia.
The winners on aggregate will advance to the 12-team CONCACAF semi-final group stage.