France grabbed a late point in a 1-1 draw with Jamaica in their Group B encounter at the Estadio Universitario in Monterrey. The Reggae Boyz came out full of confidence to take the early lead, but each side was greatly affected by the sweltering temperatures in the stadium nicknamed ‘El Volcan’ and the French eventually found their way back to level the score.
With zero points from two matches and nothing to lose against France, Jamaica capitalised early on, in what was a sluggish start for Les Bleuets. After Jason Wright had his shot rise over Quetin Beunardeau’s crossbar, Jamaica stunned the French in the eighth minute. Omar Holness’ long-range throw found an unmarked Andre Lewis, who neatly chested the ball down to drive home into lower-left corner. And hoping to double their lead, Jamaica pushed forward, but Romario Williams saw his chance go wide.
The new-look French side - coach Patrick Gonfalone preferring a new line-up from their previous two outings at the tournament - finally turned up the heat. Yassine Benzia headed a chance over Jamaica’s goal while Gaetan Laborde was free in the area just minutes later after receiving a through ball, but number two goalkeeper Richard Trench proved his worth as he smothered the chance. Although not tested again until the 36th minute, the Jamaican keeper did well to block a rocket from Benzia. France were putting heavy pressure on the Reggae Boyz, who had trouble getting the ball forward. However, before the break, Oshane Jenkins hammered a long-range chance that took a bounce just before reaching Beunardeau’s net, the Frenchman parrying away the effort.
France, no longer suffocated by the blistering heat at Estadio Universitario, completely bossed the second half. Benzia, who had been the brightest player for Les Bleuets on the day, finally found his team an equaliser. After having been denied by an offside just moments earlier, the on-form striker hit for his third goal at the tournament in the 58th minute, touching to the right of two Jamaican defenders to fire home a low shot. Trench then kept the match level, when he blocked Laborde’s effort. The Jamaicans began to fall apart as the match approached its end, often committing clumsy tackles in their exhaustion.
In the 70th minute, the French had their chance to take the lead after a series of tackles in the area saw Romario Williams get booked for tripping Benzia. However, Jordan Ikoko fluffed the proceeding spot-kick with a curled effort wide. And in the 79th minute Jamaica's day was all but over when substitute Jason Wint was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle. The draw ends Jamaica’s slim hopes of progression and earns France second place in Group B. The French will play next on 30 June in Queretaro against the second-place finisher in Group F.