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A 16th minute strike by Shamar Nicholson proved the difference as Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz edged Dominican Republic 1-0 to open their Concacaf World Cup qualifying account on a positive note at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Nicholson’s strike, his 17th international goal and third in World Cup qualifiers, highlighted an unsatisfactory evening for Heimir Hallgrimsson’s side, as the defence was at times vulnerable, while the wasteful attacking front was marred by a lack of composure and poor decision-making in the final third. This was much to the disappointment of the sizeable crowd which surprisingly turned out despite the early kickoff and rainfall.

Still, for Hallgrimsson, the most important outcome was securing the three points, which propelled the Boyz to second in Group E on three points, same as leaders Guatemala, who hammered Dominica 6-0 in their opening clash on Wednesday.

“We should have finished it off, but when you are winning 1-0, it's always uncomfortable because then it only needs a corner or a freekick and the ball goes in. So you never kind of feel relaxed, but we should have killed the game off with the chances we got. Apart from that, it (our performance) was below par, and we can do much better than we did today,” Hallgrimsson said in a post-game interview.

“But given a lot of these players are coming back from not playing, it was kind of given that some of them would not be ready for a competitive match right away. We can for sure improve from this performance, but the most important thing is that we got the win and we kept a clean sheet,” he added.

After a cagey start by both teams, the Jamaicans eventually showed some attacking intent in the 12th minute through the fleet-footed Renaldo Cephas, who utilised his pace to good effect to breach Dominican Republic's defence, but he couldn't get on target at that point.

Dominican Republic tried to play their game, through steady and penetrative build ups, and it was one of those attempts to open up in attack that allowed the Jamaicans to break the deadlock on the counter. This, as Cephas won possession on the break and left the last defender in his wake on his way into the 18-yard box where he played a pass across goal to Nicholson, who applied a cool finish beyond custodian Miguel Lloyd.

The Boyz tried to press the ascendancy from there, but were unable to make their dominance in possession count, as their star man Michail Antonio was subjected to heavy physical treatment throughout. In fact, the Jamaicans next best chance of the first half was courtesy of Bobby Reid's 33rd-minute freekick from just outside the 18-yard box, which went just wide of the left upright.

Much like they did at the start, both teams were again slow into rhythm on the resumption, as both lacked enterprise in their build ups, and as such, failed to create anything meaningful in the attacking third.

It was until the 72nd minute that the Jamaicans again came to life when Cephas’s blistering pace down the left channel forced Luiyi De Lucas to take fell him inside the danger area and gift the Jamaicans a penalty. However, Reid couldn't make the 12-yard kick count as his effort went at a decent height for Lloyd to parry.

Eight minutes later, Reid again unleashed Cephas, who had Deshane Beckford alongside him in a two-on-one counter, but the former selfishly hogged possession and inevitably had his tame effort blocked by the advancing Lloyd.

Though they continued to threatening in a sustained attacking spell in the latter stages of the contest, the Jamaicans were found wanting in the decision-making which robbed them of any real opportunity to add to their tally.