Carlos Will Mejia (L) from Olimpia fight for the ball with Pablo Rodriguez in the Honduras semifinal first leg game in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Photo courtesy La Tribuna)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Olimpia and visiting Real Espana battled on Wednesday to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Honduran Apertura semifinal series at the Estadio Nacional.
Olimpia -- winner of the last four domestic titles -- was without the services of Brazilian duo defender Fabio de Souza and forward Douglas Caetano Mattoso.
Real Espana almost went ahead in the second minute, when Wilfredo Barahona's left-sided cross looked destined to find the waiting Mario Martinez. Henry Bermudez, however, did well to deflect the ball away before reaching its intended target.
The host's first solid chance of the encounter came in the 30th minute. An effort from the edge of the box by Uruguayan Ramiro Bruschi forced 19-year-old goalkeeper Luis Lopez into a tremendous save.
Just before the break, Lopez averted danger, stopping Bruschi again off a feed from Antony Lozano.
In the 53rd minute, Real Espana was back on the attack. Costa Rican Allan Aleman eluded three Olimpia defenders only to see goalkeeper Noel Valladares save his shot smoothly.
Midway through half, the influential Bruschi had a goal disallowed for offside.
The final minutes proved to be dramatic as Olimpia failed to convert on stretch that resulted in three consecutive corner kicks.
Real Espana's Julio Rodriguez then found Marlon Pena, but his attempt was saved dramtically by the outstanding Valladares.
On Sunday, the sides will meet again at the Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula. Based on the competition regulations, Real Espana needs only another draw to advance to the final, where it will meet the winner of the Deportes Savio-Real Sociedad pairing. Savio won the first leg 2-0.