Hallgrimsson era opens with 3-0 defeat to Argentina
HEIMIR HALLGRIMSSON’S baptism of fire as new national senior men’s head coach against Argentina came with a defeat but also with more insights about what he has to work with as he plots a course for the next World Cup qualifying cycle.
Argentina defeated the Reggae Boyz 3-0 in their international friendly at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, thanks to goals from Julian Alvarez in the 13th minute and a brace from Lionel Messi in the 86th and 89th. Argentina were playing their game before the 2022 World Cup begins in November.
As expected, national goalkeeper and captain, Andre Blake started for his new head coach and was part of a lineup that featured the majority of the core players from the last World Cup qualifying campaign.
There was a return for Daniel Johnson, who played in his first game since January when Jamaica lost to Mexico in World Cup qualifying. West Ham’s Michail Antonio was also starting in his first game since February when they lost 1-0 to Costa Rica.
Jamaica under Hallgrimsson got what was expected from Argentina with their possession and pressing game causing multiple problems. Blake was required to make a save from Giovanni Lo Celso in the first five minutes of the contest, a prelude to what would become a constant theme throughout the first half.
Argentina’s patience paid off in the 13th minute as Nicolas Tagliafico found Lautaro Martinez on the left-hand side and his low pass found Alvarez for a simple tap-in to the delight of the majority Argentina crowd.
WIDE OF THE TARGET
Minutes later, Jamaica were fortunate not to be down by two as Lo Celso was picked out in the penalty area by Angel Di Maria but his shot curled wide of the target.
Lo Celso would test Blake once more midway through the first half as his shot went wide, but Jamaica weren’t being meek and attempted to get behind Argentina’s defensive line. Still, they found the task difficult with Argentina extinguishing their attempts at offence with relative ease.
The best chance the Jamaicans had came at the end of the first half when a Johnson free kick was met by the head of Shamar Nicholson but went wide.
It was more of the same in the second half as Argentina maintained their control while Jamaica were coming under duress, needing to make clearances from their own penalty area.
Martinez was close to getting his name on the scoresheet, freeing himself in the penalty area but his shot went just wide.
The introduction of Messi in the 56th minute only increased the headaches for the already strained defence and it would take him just minutes before some good interplay led to shot that was saved by Blake.
Jamaica had their first moment in the second half when Amarii Bell managed to intercept a pass burst into the Argentine half before finding Antonio, who could not make good contact with his effort.
Another burst by Daniel Johnson lacked some quality in the final third and Jamaica, once again, were unable to make use of a good position.
At the other end, Jamaica could not keep Messi out for long as three minutes before the end, he fired a low shot past Blake to put the result beyond doubt. For good measure, he scored his 90th international goal with a low free kick that sneaked past Blake.
Jamaica XI: Andre Blake (c), Amarii Bell, Damion Lowe, Javain Brown (Kaheem Parris 79th minute), Adrian Mariappa, Daniel Johnson, Ravel Morrison, Bobby Reid, Leon Bailey, Shamar Nicholson (Andre Gray 69th minute), Michail Antonio (Jamal Lowe 88th minute).