Demarai Gray Grabs Glory With Nations League Winner

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Hosts Jamaica restricted to just a single shot on target with slender success over battling Honduras

Demarai Gray’s second-half strike was enough to bag Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz maximum points in their CONCACAF Nations League opener against Honduras on Friday night.

The whizzy winger, who earlier in the week penned a lucrative four-year deal with Saudi Arabia Pro League outfit Al-Ettifaq, fired in the 64th-minute winner in a hard-fought 1-0 triumph.

Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson’s maiden competitive match at Kingston’s National Stadium may have been a scrappy affair, but the result has lifted the Boyz to the top of Group B as other games finished all square.

Click Here to see the Game’s Highlights


With Hallgrimsson throwing up some surprise names with his latest squad, Chelsea recruit Dujuan Richards was denied by the woodwork and Bobby Decordova-Reid impressed with pacey moves that set up the only goal of the game.

Decordova-Reid was in fine fettle right from the start. The Fulham striker found the back of the net in the sixth minute, only for his strike to be ruled offside. As he was brandished with a second-half yellow card, then he was hauled off before the final whistle.

Jamaica, fresh from July’s run to the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals, fell flat following this initial disappointment. Their midfield lacked the drive to push forward, outmanoeuvred by the visitors whose pressing game kept the back four busy.

Only poor finishing denied Honduras a deserved lead, who looked rusty in front of goal and sent a string of wayward shots way off target.

At the other end of the pitch Richards, a prodigy of the Phoenix Academy who will become a Chelsea player on his 18th birthday next month, came close to breaking the deadlock on the brink of half-time. His fine effort hit the far post and bounced around the box before being cleared to safety.

A cagey second-half followed, with Luis Palma wasting his gilt-edged chance with a rushed shot off target following a rare defensive slip-up on 57 minutes.

Gray soon gave Palma a lesson in finishing. Reid-Decordova initiated the counterattack and perfectly picked out Gray on the left wing. The 27-year-old bamboozled Maylor Nunez, then picked his spot to beat ‘keeper Edrick Menjívar inside the far post.


The National Stadium exploded with joy at Gray’s third goal in six appearances. Hallgrimsson immediately made changes as his side had been second best.

He made a 65th-minute triple substitution because Gray’s goal had been Jamaica’s sole shot on target. Striker Shamar Nicholson replaced Richards, Daniel Johnson came on for Kasey Palmer in midfield and Tayvon Gray took over defensive duties from Javain Brown.

Yet these changes left gaping gaps for the visitors to exploit, so the head coach wisely shuffled his pack again by withdrawing forwards Gray and Reid-Decordova with 23-year-old striker Renaldo Cephas and experienced midfielder Kevon Lambert given a short run-out.

Honduras moved through the gears and pushed for an equaliser, but the solid home defence dealt with the relentless danger to earn the Boyz’ a table-topping result.

Other group games saw Haiti held to a scoreless draw by rejuvenated Cuba at the Estadio Panamericano in Dominican Republic, with hosts Grenada and Suriname ending 1-1 at the Kirani James Athletics Stadium in St. George’s.

Jamaica return to the National Stadium on Tuesday to tackle Haiti, who wasted a plethora of goalscoring opportunities against Cuba, yet Hallgrimsson will need more than just Gray to show his worth in front of goal next time.

JAMAICA | Waite – Bell, Pinnock, Lowe, Brown (T.Gray, 65) – Palmer (Johnson, 65), Latibeaudiere, Richards (Nicolson, 65) – D.Gray (Cephas, 82), Reid-Decordova (Lambert, 77), Bailey. Subs: Bernard, Wrayton Phillips, Boyce-Clarke, Williams, Mariappa, Leigh

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