It may have been the most hotly contested match of this year’s Gold Cup, a description that will be no consolation to Costa Rica. Despite an open chance for Álvaro Saborío in the first minute, a late game onslaught, and only a diving header from Andy Najar separating them from Honduras on Sunday in Baltimore, they were still separated from the Catrachos at M&T Bank Stadium, eliminated in the quarterfinals after a 1-0 loss to their Central American rivals.
Honduras now moves on to face the United States Wednesday in the competition’s semifinals. Costa Rica, on the other hand, exit at the round of eight
for the second consecutive tournament.
The Ticos nearly went ahead early when a first minute cross from Kenny Cunningham was pushed just wide of an open goal by Saborio, a chance Costa Rica were left to rue when Najar dove onto a cross from the right early in the second half. The current Anderlecht, the former D.C. United player’s second international goal gave Honduras the opener four minutes after intermission.
Seven of Costa Rica’s nine shots came after Najar’s goal, with a standout performance from goalkeeper Donis Escobar all that preserved the Hondurans’ lead. As the Catrachos bunkered late, Costa Rica’s access to Escobar was finally cut off, with late, hopeful balls lobbed into the Honduran penalty area failing to pay off.
Honduras’s 1-0 win means the Gold Cup will have the same semifinalists for the second tournament in a row, but whereas Mexico had to defeat Honduras to meet the U.S. in 2011’s final, this year they’ll face a Panama team that defeated them in group stage – the Canaleros’ first ever competitive victory over Mexico.
The U.S., who beat El Salvador 5-1 in the day’s first match, will face Honduras, with both games taking place Wednesday in Dallas.