Honduras' Kevin Alvarez holds off Valmir Berisha of Sweden during their FIFA U-17 World Cup quarterfinal at Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium on November 1, 2013 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
AL AIN CITY, UAE – Honduras conceded two goals in a six-minute span in the second half to fall to Sweden, 2-1, in the FIFA U-17 World Cup quarterfinals on Friday at Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium.
Sweden next faces the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal between Uruguay and Nigeria in the semifinals on Tuesday in Dubai.
In their first-ever appearance in the U-17 World Cup, the Swedes had the first quality scoring chance of the game. Valmir Berisha latched onto Elias Andersson’s corner kick in the 26th minute, but the forward headed the ball off the crossbar from 10 yards.
The Hondurans went ahead 1-0 the 37th minute on Brayan Velasquez’s second goal of the tournament. The Olimpia forward fought off a challenge from Erdal Rakip and with Johan Ramhorn attempting to tackle the ball away, slid and put his shot inside the side netting from the edge of the six-yard box.
The Catrachos, who reached the knockout stage of the tournament for the first time, could not hold off the hard-charging Swedes.
Rakip leveled for the Europeans in the 68th minute, taking a short pass from Gentrit Citaku and tapping the ball around Honduran goalkeeper Cristian Hernandez to put the finishing touches on a nice buildup.
With the Honduran defense stretched, Berisha scored one of the goals of the tournament to give Sweden a 2-1 lead in the 74th minute. The forward received a low cross from Anton Saletros and put a back heel inside the far post from eight yards for his fourth goal of the competition.
Velasquez twice tried to get Honduras, which defeated Uzbekistan 1-0 in the Round of 16, level in the final 10 minutes. He had a shot from 20 yards out deflect wide and a second attempt was saved by goalkeeper Sixten Mohlin.
In the search for the equalizer, the Central Americans had pair of stoppage-time set pieces. Kevin Alvarez was unable to connect with a teammate on a long free kick into the box, while Kevin Lopez put his attempt wide of the far post just before the final whistle.
Honduras completed its participation in the competition with a 2-1-2 record. Velasquez and Jorge Bodden shared the team lead in goals scored with two apiece. Three players – Hernandez, Luis Santos and Christopher Alegria – played every minute of each game.