Neither team could put themselves above the other as they came into Foxboro with a point each, and left with two each following a 1-1 draw between Panama and Haiti.
Luis Tejeda touched home in the 21st minute to put Panama ahead, but again they conceded a late goal as Andy Najar equalized with a penalty with nine minutes to go and ensure the points were shared in the feisty match.
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Aside from a pair of promising break for Honduras led by Najar that was defended well, it was all Panama through the first 20 minutes. They would cash in on a tricky free-kick as Armando Cooper’s ball into the center of the box deflected off Henry Figueroa and wrong-footed Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escobar. That left Tejeda with an easy touch into the back of the net from point-blank range for the lead.
Honduras looked for an immediate response, with a pair of corners defended well by Panama, and then a stunning fingertips save on the half-hour mark by Jaime Penedo kept Carlos Discua out after beautiful work by Honduras to set him up for a diving header.
Following the halftime break, Honduras maintained much of the attacking possession but failed to produce a chance anywhere close to Discua’s opportunity earlier until past the hour mark. Mario Martinez, just minutes after coming on, smashed the crossbar off a free-kick, and while Eddie Hernandez headed the rebound into the back of the net, the offsides flag called the goal back.
Honduras maintained the attacking pressure and were finally rewarded for a few chances when Cooper tripped Najar on the ball in the box, and the referee rightly pointed to the spot. After a lengthy delay, Najar’s penalty was saved acrobatically by Penedo but the Honduran was there to smash home the rebound. The late goal signals the second blown lead for Panama so far in this Gold Cup, a big blow to their table position.
Honduras nearly stunned their opponents with a late stoppage-time winner but another goal was ruled out – correctly – for offsides as Penedo made yet another a full-stretch save and substitute Eddie Hernandez was in an offside position when he crashed home the rebound. Panama faced some late drama as Luis Henriquez was shown a red card in the seventh minute of stoppage time, and will miss the final group stage match against the United States.
The shared points means the U.S. has a fantastic opportunity against Haiti to clinch first place in Group A with three points tonight. It also means these two teams will go down to the final match to determine who will move on, with Panama to play the U.S. and Honduras set to take on Haiti.