FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A late, one-nothing lead again proved to be too much for Panama to maintain, as an 81st minute goal off of a penalty kick rebound allowed Honduras to step away with a 1-1 draw in Group A action.
Set pieces proved critical for much of what turned into a very physical matchup, but both teams deservedly walked away with a point from an evenly played game, leaving the United States still on top of group ahead of their nightcap against Haiti on Friday (8:30 pm ET, Fox Sports 1, UniMás).
Panama had solid control of things in the first half, and in the 16th minute got a nice bid off of a free kick just outside of the box when Gabriel Gomez boomed a bending shot on target, only for Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escobar to make a full-extension save to his left to keep the game scoreless.
Honduras responded with a big chance of their own a couple of minutes later, as some nifty passing around the box allowed Carlos Discua a left-footed chance from just outside the six, only to find Panama 'keeper Jaime Penedo in position to make a nice save.
Panama would again be presented with a free kick just outside of the box in the 21st minute, but instead of Gomez aiming for goal, he slid a pass to a streaking, unmarked Armando Cooper charging into the right channel. The midfielder laid a pass across the goal that was deflected up into the air before finding Luis Tejada on the doorstep to clean things up and give Panama a 1-0 lead.
Honduras looked as if they had leveled things in the 67th minute after a free kick opportunity of their own from a similar spot to where Panama had set up their scoring chance.
Mario Martinez took the short kick at the top left of the box and whistled a left-footer off the crossbar, which was followed by an Eddie Hernandez header that found its way over the goal line. Unfortunately for Honduras, Hernandez was ruled offside, the goal was negated, and the two sides played on.
Martinez got another whack at things in the 77th minute, on another free kick which he took directly to the near post. Maynor Figueroa made a diving heading attempt on the ball, but pushed it just over.
Feeling continuous pressure from a surging Honduras side, Panama created more problems for themselves when Cooper was called for a takedown on Andy Najar in the box, setting up a penalty kick.
The 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year, now with Belgian side Anderlecht, saw his initial left-side blast stopped by Penedo, but was able to follow up and slot it home to square things in the 81st minute.
Honduras continued to push for all three points, but saw another Hernandez goal in stoppage time get waved off because of an offside call.
Group A continues play on Monday in Kansas City with Panama squaring up against the United States, while Honduras will look to build off of their momentum from this match against Haiti.