Gold Cup: Honduras scores in stoppage time to beat El Salvador 1-0
Jorge Claros brought the pro-Honduras crowd of 28,713 at Sun Life Stadium to a frenzy when he fooled an offsides trap and calmly beat goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo one-on-one from inside the penalty area 90 seconds into the extra time.
The win gave Honduras six points, best in Group B.
While the first 91 minutes of the contest were scoreless, they were hardly sleepy. The youth of both squads was on full display, as the game maintained a high tempo and presented multiple scoring chances.
Claros’ goal brought a warranted win to Los Catrachos, who produced most of the game’s best play before finally scoring the winner.
The first opportunity for Honduras came in the first 10 minutes of the contest, when Claros’ seeing-eye through ball from mid-pitch found the feet of Rony Martinez, who sliced through the El Salvador defense but shot wide of the left post.
In the 21st minute, Los Catrachos thought they had broken the deadlock again when Mario Berrios netted one in spectacular fashion.
Off a stellar first touch at the left corner of the penalty area, the midfielder spun towards goal, hitting a curling the ball into the upper right corner of the net.
Berrios, who had been left off the national team for six years, celebrated what he thought was his first-ever international goal. He didn’t see that assistant referee Eric Boria had correctly flagged the play as offside until after the celebration was over.
The fast-paced tempo of the game continued after the Honduran let-down, but the back lines of both squads found organization and prevented either team from developing a sustained attack.
At the same time, chippiness in the midfield brought a total of 27 fouls.
With play deadlocked, a shot against the run of play nearly nearly stole the game for El Salvador, as Kevin Santamaria’s low drive from 20 yards out struck the right post in the 87th minute.
Honduras answered the close call by pushing men forward in the final minutes of the contest. Brayan Beckeles was brought down to the right of the penalty area in the 90th minute, setting up a free kick from a dangerous position, but Mario Martinez’s service off the set piece was cleared away with ease by a steadfast El Salvador back line.
Los Catrachos didn’t relent though, and a minute later they had another set piece on the opposite side of goal.
While Martinez’ service was again cleared, it didn’t leave the Honduras attacking zone, as Edder Delgado intercepted the clearance and quickly passed to Claros in the penalty area as El Salvador’s back line pushed forward.
The line didn’t move forward fast enough, as the still-onside Claros deftly brought down the pass and drove towards goal unabated. His clean finish into the upper left corner was his third international goal and his first since his brace against Guatemala in 2011.
With Honduras securing a spot in the knockout round, two spots remain available for the groups’ three other teams. Haiti, with three points thanks to a 2-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago on Friday, stands to advance to the knockout stage with points Monday against El Salvador.
Both El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago are in must-win scenarios to advance to the knockout stage. Both teams have one point after two matches.
Monday’s games will be played in Houston.