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Knight saves Reggae Boyz against Romanian top-tier team

PICTURED: Reggae Boyz (Photo credit: AFP)

AMAL KNIGHT'S brilliance by saving a late penalty spared Jamaica's Reggae Boyz any embarrassment in yesterday's friendly against Romanian outfit CS Gaz Metan at Antalya, Turkey.

The contest, used to encourage European scouts to check out the talents of Jamaica's youthful rising stars, saw a stalemate against the top flight team - but only just.

Portmore United's Maalique Foster put the visitors ahead on 17 minutes at the Mardan Sports Complex, with Sirghi Bogdan equalising midway through the second half.

But it was UWI FC shotstopper who held his nerve with six minutes remaining to deny Nasser Chamed a triumph that the they deserved.

The game kicked off in style with early end-to-end action that involved both eventual goalscorers. Bogdan's glancing header was narrowly wide of the target on four minutes. And the Boyz swiftly responded with a neat build-up, only for Foster to waste his chance at the near post.

Alex Marshall showed his silky skills with a lovely run from a sublime pass in midfield on the quarter of an hour mark, only to fail to connect with the ball and trouble CS Gaz keeper Helio Monteiro.

But it was Foster who made no mistake to give the Boyz a deserved lead. He latched onto Tevin Shaw's headed pass and from a one-on-one with Monteiro cleverly rounded him before putting the Boyz ahead.

This goal boosted the Boyz, who bossed the remainder of the opening half with the quartet of Foster, Marshall, Chevonne Marsh and Johvan East easily dealing with any danger.

After the turnaround the lively Chamed tried his luck with an impressive dipping free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box, which Knight spectacularly tipped over the bar.

The second half was played at a slower tempo, and it took until the 64th minute before the Boyz carved out a goal-scoring opportunity. Substitute Dane Kelly burst forward and neatly picked out East, who failed to capitalise on the glorious opportunity from a fee yards.

This scuppered chance came back to bite the Boyz four minutes later, Bogdan powerfully heading Jorge Rosado's corner home to level matters with an overdue goal.

This strike amazingly left the visitors in total disarray, resulting in the Boyz falling apart with wayward passes and poor shooting - apart from substitute Owayne Gordon's thunderous 20-yarder that thumped the bar.

Shawn Lawes handed CS Gaz a blatant spot-kick with a reckless tackle in the 84th minute, but wa able to breathe a sigh of relief after Knight dived to his right to deny Chamed from snatching a winner that the Romanian Club side deserved.

Jamaica Head Coach Whitmore had allowed the next generation of players to strut their stuff for watching scouts on Saturday. But on Tuesday the more senior players will be utilised as the Boyz return to the Mardan Sports Complex to focus on their friendly against World Cup-bound South Korea (6am kick-off on 31 January, Jamaica time).

Jamaica squad: Shaven Paul, Amal Knight, Ladale Richie, Shawn Lawes, Kemar Lawrence, Oniel Fisher, Devon Williams, Je-Vaughn Watson, Jamiel Hardware, Ricardo Morris, Alex Marshall, Chevonne Marsh, Johvan East, Owayne Gordon, Javain Brown, Shaun Francis, Dane Kelly, Tevin Shaw, Malique Foster, Fabion McCarthy.

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