New England Soccer Today

Panama, Honduras Settle for Draw

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Panama opened the scoring in the 21st minute through Luis Tejada and looked in control, but an improved second half effort saw Honduras equalize on an 81st minute Andy Najar penalty kick as both sides were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Gillette Stadium on Friday night in the second round of CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A play.

Both sides entered the match in need of points after disappointing results in their opening games of Group A. Honduras suffered a 2-1 loss to the United States to open group play, while Panama blew a late lead and settled for a 1-1 draw against Haiti. The draw leaves both teams still in need of points to secure advancement to the next round.

After some back-and-forth early play the best early chance came when Panama earned a dangerous free kick outside the box on the right flank in the 11th minute. Anibal Godoy stepped up to take the set piece and curled it in on goal, where Honduran ‘keeper Donis Escobar just managed to tip it over the bar.

Another Panama set piece in the 16th minute nearly opened the scoring when they earned a free kick from the top of the box. Gabriel Gomez curled a shot around the Honduran wall, forcing Escobar to make an acrobatic diving save to keep the game scoreless.

Down the other end Honduras used some nice counterattacking football in the 19th minute to create their best early chance. A well-played through ball put Anthony Lozano into the left side of the box, where Lozano played it back to Carlos Discua who hammered a shot from close range that Jaime Penedo pushed wide.

Two minutes later, however, it was Panama who took the lead off yet another set piece opportunity. This time Panama found an open Armando Cooper just outside the box on the right with a pass from the free kick. Cooper ran in on goal then attempted a low cross in front of goal. His effort was deflected, leaving Escobar with little chance to cover, while Luis Tejada deflected it in to make it 1-0.

Honduras had a chance to equalize in the 32nd minute after earning a corner kick. The ball was eventually played wide to Brayan Beckeles who whipped a cross into the box where Discua used a diving header to blast a shot on frame. Penedo was again equal to the challenge with an impressive save.

Three minutes later Discua had another chance after an Andy Najar cross was deflected to Discua about eight yards out, but his shot failed him this time, going well high of the net.

The game saw some controversy in the 43rd minute when Alberto Quintero got the ball in the box from Blas Perez and was running in on goal when Beckeles brought him down with a slide tackle. Panama protested for a penalty kick, but referee Marlon Mejia just awarded Honduras’ a goal kick.

The two sides struggled to create chances early in the second half, but Honduras nearly equalized in the 66th minute after earning a free kick on the left side of the box.  Bryan Acosta sent the ball to Mario Martinez outside the box on the other side and Martinez blasted a shot that was denied only by the crossbar. The ball fell to substitute Eddy Hernandez, who headed it into the open net, but was correctly ruled offside on the play.

Honduras continued to press for an equalizer. After seeing a set piece from the left flank go wide, Honduras threatened with another free kick in the 76th minute with Martinez finding Maynor Figueroa, but Figueroa’s header was just wide from close range.

Two minutes later Honduras would earn a penalty kick when Andy Najar was tripped up by Armando Cooper while making a run into the left side of the box. After nearly three minutes of arguing by the Panamanian players, Najar stepped up to take the penalty and blasted it to Penedo’s right. Penedo made the save, but the rebound came right back to Najar, who easily put away the rebound to know the score at 1-1.

Honduras continued to pressure for a winner and nearly found one in the third minute of stoppage time when a cross from the left flank found Romell Quioto just a few feet from goal. Quioto attempted to one-time a shot, but his effort was well high of the net.

A minute later Honduras had another chance, with Martinez getting the ball just inside the box and directing a shot on frame. Penedo made the save, but gave up a rebound that Hernandez finished, but was ruled offside for the second time in the match.

In the last minute of stoppage time Panama went down a man when Alberto Quintero received a second yellow card and subsequent red card.

Honduras finishes off group play against Haiti and Panama takes on the United States on Monday.

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