Roberto Chen (left) scored in second-half injury time to give Panama a 2-2 draw with host Honduras in a World Cup qualifier on September 10, 2013, played in Tegucigalpa. (Photo: FIFA via AFP)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – A stoppage-time equalizer by Roberto Chen rallied Panama to a 2-2 draw with Honduras in a final round World Cup qualifier for Brazil 2014 on Tuesday at the Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino.
Luis Henriquez played a cross in front of goal from the left side. Blas Perez appeared to be the target, but the forward wasn’t able to corral the ball. It fell to the 19-year-old Malaga defender, who knocked it in to give the Canaleros a valuable point.
Panama and Mexico now share fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal at eight points each, but the Central Americans are ahead on goals scored (7-4).
Carlo Costly put Honduras in front, 1-0, in the 28th minute with his sixth goal in the current qualifying campaign. Brayan Beckeles made a strong run down the right side and sent a low cross in front of the net. Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo dived, but could only get a piece of a ball that squirted in front of the net, where Costly tapped in easily.
Panama equalized four minutes after the interval on a sensational goal by Gabriel Torres. The Colorado Rapids forward ran towards a cross from Jairo Jimenez and, with his back to goal, flicked the ball over Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares and inside the far post.
In the 61st minute, Honduras took its second lead of the match. Roger Espinoza played a ball inside the 18-yard box to Wilson Palacios, who put it through the legs of a Panamanian defender, before deftly chipping over Penedo at the edge of the six-yard box.
Panama, which pulled out a 2-0 victory at home over Honduras earlier in the round, had a quality chance to equalize in the 76th minute. The Honduran defense, however, did well to clear away a Marcos Sanchez free kick.
Three minutes later, Perez got behind the Honduran defense for a free header, but his attempt from the edge of the six-yard box went wide left.
One minute later, Felipe Baloy flicked a header on goal following a Gabriel Torres corner kick, but Valladares grabbed the ball and quickly distributed.
Jerry Bengston had an opportunity to put the match away in the 85th minute only to miss from 12 meters.
The Panamanians had chances to equalize late through efforts by Roman Torres and Amilcar Henriquez. It would ultimately be Chen to provide the heroics as time ran out.
Honduras remains in third place in the hexagonal, extending its lead over Mexico to three points with two matches remaining. The Catrachos will next host Costa Rica on October 11.
Panama will travel to the Estadio Azteca for a showdown against Mexico the same day. It will do so without Alberto Quintero, who was booked for simulation in the 12th minute and will be suspended.