It has been a groundbreaking tournament for the Reggae Girlz with a draw against France in their opening match yielding a first point at a Women’s World Cup and, suddenly, they can seriously contemplate reaching the knockout stages for the first time too, with this victory lifting them level on points with group leader France.
It was a scoreless opening half, one where the history at stake for both teams – Panama was seeking a first World Cup win too – was palpable as Jamaica fired shot after shot over the crossbar and Panama seemed content to play out from the back.
Eventually, however, Jamaica’s dominance told and Swaby latched onto a corner in the 56th minute, her header finding the back of the net and proving the difference between the two teams.
Jamaica will next face Brazil in its last group stage match, with star striker and talisman Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw returning to the team after serving a one-match suspension for receiving a red card in that draw against France.
The Reggae Girlz got the better of the opening exchanges in Perth, navigating their way through a crowded midfield but could not find the back of the net despite a series of corners and attempts on goal that flew high and wide.
Drew Spence’s effort after a dazzling run in the 33rd minute found only the side netting as she sought to curl the ball around the Panamanian defense, two minutes before Vyan Sampson’s powerful shot from outside the box had to be punched away by Panama’s goalkeeper Yenith Bailey.
Meanwhile, Panama fought to keep a foothold in the game, occasionally challenging Jamaica’s backline as its own defense scrambled well to keep the Reggae Girlz at bay.
But it seemed a matter of time until Jamaica found the back of the net, and Swaby eventually put her team ahead, sparking jubilant celebrations on the field.
As the clock ticked into injury time, the Reggae Girlz were awarded a penalty for handball that could have sealed their victory but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) overruled the decision, prompting a late surge from Panama and a tense ending to the game, though Jamaica clung on for a famous victory.