EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Honduras advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup ousting Costa Rica 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in a Saturday night quarterfinal at New Meadowlands Stadium.
Honduras move on to face the winner of the second quarterfinal on Saturday between Mexico and Guatemala. Both CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals will take place at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Wednesday, June 22.
Honduran striker Jerry Bengston had an easy tap-in four-minutes into the second half but Costa Rica equalized just seven minutes later on a corner kick header by defender Dennis Marshall. Neither team would score again in regulation and after a scoreless extra time period, Honduras were perfect in the PK shootout while Costa Rica struck the woodwork on two of their attempts, sending los Catrachos to their third semifinal appearance in the last four Gold Cup tournaments.
Real Salt Lake forward Álvaro Saborío had a golden opportunity to win the game for Costa Rica with 14 minutes remaining in regulation and the score tied 1-1, but his weakly taken penalty kick was saved by Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares. Saborío again missed on his penalty kick during the shootout, sending his attempt against the crossbar.
After a strong and energetic start by Costa Rica, Honduras slowly took over the first half by dominating the midfield — sporting a numerical advantage with five midfielders — and taking advantage of several forced turnovers by the Costa Ricans. However, the Catrachos could not capitalize on any of their numerous opportunities.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica could barely muster any attacking threats in the first half with their midfielders failing to control the ball. The wingers were the only ones to exhibit any ideas but captain Bryan Ruiz on the right side was often triple-teamed when he touched the ball, while left winger Cristian Bolaños saw his near post shot at the half-hour mark parried away by Honduran netminder Noel Valladares.
Surprise starter Javier Portillo, playing on the left wing for Honduras, had the last two opportunities of the first half with two long distance efforts. But it was his run four minutes into the second half that was the catalyst for the first goal of the match.
Easily beating backpedaling Costa Rican defender José Salvatierra, Portillo expertly controlled a long ball from midfield, entered the left side of the box and fired at goal. Navas’ kick save merely sent the ball to the opposite side, where Bengston was unmarked to knock the ball into an empty net.
The response from Costa Rica came just minutes later as Marshall headed down a corner kick delivery from Bolaños for the equalizer. The outswinging delivery met an unmarked Marshall at the edge of six-yard box and the Costa Rican defender obliged, bouncing the ball into the back of the net.
Costa Rica were more competitive during the second half as manager Ricardo La Volpe made a tactical switch, going to a three-man back line and adding more punch to the middle of the field. Los Ticos could have taken the lead with just 14 minutes left in regulation but Honduras’ Valladares stopped Saborío’s penalty kick, diving low to his right to block the attempt. Saborío’s strike partner, Marco Ureña, drew the penalty kick call after going down in the box following some tugging from Honduran central defender Víctor Bernardez, who was booked on the play.
It was Honduras with the best chance in the game’s final stages. A cross from the left side by second-half substitute Carlo Costly was headed backwards by Bengston to an unmarked Ramón Núñez. The former MLS player, who was an early substitute due to an injury to starter Walter Martínez, fired a point-blank shot on goal from 10 yards out which was blocked on the goal line by a lunging Marshall. Honduran midfielder Oscar Boniek García nearly converted on the rebound but goalkeeper Keylor Navas recovered in time.
The attempts at goal were few and far between during a 30-minute extra time period marked by constant stoppages due to injuries and cramps. With four minutes remaining in the added session, Navas was called into action, swatting away a deflected shot from Boniek García from outside the box.
Sporting Kansas City left back Roger Espinoza enjoyed a solid 81 minutes in central midfield for Honduras although he missed his mark on Marshall during the Costa Rican equalizer.
Saborío barely got any touches due to a lack of service although he attempted in vain to chase down several hopeful balls into the attack. He could have been the hero on the penalty kick attempt he failed to convert, which will be remembered as the turning point of the quarterfinal.
HON – Bengston (Portillo) 49’
CRC – Marshall (Bolaños) 56’
PENALTY KICK SHOOTOUT:
CRC – Borges (crossbar)
HON – Costly (goal)
CRC – Ruiz (goal)
HON – Bernardez (goal)
CRC – Saborio (crossbar)
HON – Palacios (goal)
CRC – Campbell (goal)
HON – Bengston (goal)
Costa Rica (4-4-2, left to right) -- #1 Keylor Navas -- #15 Junior Diaz (46’ #6 Heiner Mora), #20 Dennis Marshall, #3 Jhonny Acosta, #4 Jose Salvatierra -- #7 Cristian Bolaños (69’ #11 Diego Madrigal), #14 Bryan Oviedo, #5 Celso Borges, #10 Bryan Ruiz (capt.) -- #9 Alvaro Saborío, #16 Marco Ureña (108’ #12 Joel Campbell)
Subs Not Used: #18 Donny Grant, #19 Oscar Duarte, #21 Randall Brenes, #22 Jose Cubero
Manager: Ricardo La Volpe (Mexico)
Honduras (4-1-4-1, left to right) -- #18 Noel Valladares (capt.) -- #21 Juan Carlos Garcia #5 Victor Bernardez, #2 Osman Chavez, #16 Mauricio Sabillon -- #6 Hendry Thomas (94+’ #8 Wilson Palacios) -- #19 Javier Portillo, #17 Roger Espinoza (81’ #13 Carlo Costly), #14 Oscar Boniek Garcia, #15 Walter Martinez (24’ #10 Ramon Nuñez) -- #9 Jerry Bengston
Subs Not Used: #22 Donis Escober, #4 Johnny Leveron, #7 Emil Martinez, #24 Brayan Beckeles
Manager: Luis Fernando Suarez (Colombia)
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY: 5’ Oscar Boniek Garcia (caution), 60’ Salvatierra (caution), 70’ H. Thomas (caution), 73’ Bernardez (caution), 75’ Valladares (caution), 78’ Portillo (caution)
Referee: Roberto Moreno (Panama)
Assistant Referees: Daniel Williamson (Panama), William Torres (El Salvador)
Fourth Official: Jair Marrufo (USA)
Weather: Party cloudy, 83 degrees