Olympics: Espinoza stars, but Honduras fall to Brazil in QF
Honduras’s Olympic dream ended on Saturday, but not without a fight and not without some controversy.
Los Catrachos, led by Sporting KC’s Roger Espinoza and Seattle’s Mario Martinez, fell 3-2 to medal favorites Brazil in the quarterfinals. The CONCACAF minnows, who famously upset Spain in the group stage, had the lead twice, despite being forced to play a man down after Wilmer Crisanto picked up a soft second yellow card in the 32nd minute.
At the time of Crisanto’s sending off, Honduras had a 1-0 lead thanks to Martinez. The young winger — who recently joined the Sounders on loan — struck a lovely volley in the 11th minute to stun the Brazilians and the crowd at St. James’ Park in Newcastle.
Crisanto was booked the first time in the 31st minute for a foul and then received his second one a minute later. Replays showed it was a foul, but a harsh call for a second yellow card.
Five minutes later, Brazil equalized though Leandro Dimaio.
But Honduras didn’t slow down. New England's Jerry Bengtson was quiet up top, but Espinoza continued to drive the team forward from the midfield. And two minutes after the break, he put Honduras back in the lead. The Sporting workhorse had the ball on the right side and cut to his favored left foot. His shot curled through a defender’s legs and into the lower corner to stun Brazil yet again.
Three minutes later, Neymar slammed home an equalizing penalty after another tough call in the box. Leandro Dimaio went down relatively easily under a challenge from Jose Velasquez.
Leandro Dimaio then snatched the winner in the 59th minute. He collected a ball from Neymar, and after a lightning-quick turn, fired a shot in at the near post.
Honduras, urged on by the upset-minded crowd, fought on and nearly leveled several times, while the Brazilians resorted to obvious simulation and tactical fouls to close out the victory.
Espinoza received a second yellow card in the 90th minute after a tackle on Oscar at midfield. Rightly so, he walked off to a standing ovation from the fans at St. James’ Park.
D.C. United's Andy Najar, who started the three group matches, remained on the bench for the entire match.
Brazil will face the winner of Great Britain-South Korea, being played later on Saturday.