PANAMA CITY - Jorge Claros scored a goal in each half to give Honduras a 3-1 victory over Guatemala on Friday, putting the Catrachos in the semifinals of the Copa Centroamericana and giving them a berth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The result left only one place undecided in the 12-team field for the biennial confederation championship, to be decided Friday in the fifth-place match between Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Earlier, goalkeeper Denis Espinoza converted an early penalty and Nicaragua withstood a man disadvantage for more than 70 minutes to get a 1-1 draw with Belize.
Honduras' victory gave it four points - equal with Costa Rica atop Group B of the Centroamericana, but ahead on goals scored. Honduras will face El Salvador in Friday's semifinals, while Costa Rica will take on Panama
Panama was the only team to win all of its matches in the first round, completing its run with a 2-0 victory over El Salvador in Tuesday's finale to finish atop Group A.Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica all previously had secured berths in the semifinals and places in the Gold Cup.
Nicaragua and Belize both finished with one point in Group A, but Nicaragua ended in third place on goal difference, minus-4 to minus-5. The fifth-place game will be a rematch of their 2009 encounter, when Nicaragua won 2-0 to earn its first trip to the CONCACAF championship.
Honduras 3, Guatemala 1
Claros broke a 1-1 tie in the 42nd and then added the insurance with a minute remaining.
Both sides had numerous chances but were plagued by poor finishing.
Ramon Nunez put Honduras ahead in the 13th minute, sprinting to drive Emil Martinez's low cross from the left side with the outside of his right foot inside the right post.
Needing a victory to avoid the playoff with Nicaragua, Guatemala pushed forward and finally tallied in teh 24th when Pando Ramirez converted a 30-meter free kick with a curling right-footed drive past diving Honduran keeper Noel Valladares.
Honduras restored its lead when Martinez sent Claros free on the left, and he angled toward the goal before lifting a shot from just outside the corner of the goal box past approaching Guatemalan keeper Luis Molina.
Claros then secured the victory in the 89th, pouncing a rebound after Molina punched away Nunez's 30-meter free kick into the middle of the area. Claros tried to settle but as the ball bounced chest high, he headed from near the six-yard line.
Nicaragua 1, Belize 1
Espinoza converted the penalty in the 10th minute and then was required to make a handful of dramatic saves to preserve the victory.
Espinoza came forward to take the penalty after Belize's Victor Morales arrived late, running across the back of Elvis Figueroa's legs as he tried to turn toward goal. Cuban referee Marco Brea immediately ran to the penalty spot.
It was Nicaragua's first goal in three games and was enough to earn the side its third victory in four meetings against Belize.
Belize was given a man advantage when Brea ejected Nicaragua's Samuel Wilson in the 19th minute for stepping on the right ankle of Elroy Smith as the latter tried to shield the ball just outside the Belizean penalty area.
Despite the extra man, Belize was only able to generate a handful of serious chances until the final 10 minutes.
Less than a minute after Smith re-entered the match following the foul that got Wilson ejected, the Belizean captain created space for himself and unleashed a left-footed effort from the top of the area that Espinoza turned wide.
After Espinoza blocked a fierce attempt in the 60th, second-half substitute Daniel Jimenez finally capitalized in the 81st. Orlando Jimenez crossed a ball in from the right that Espinoza dived to punch away. But the ball bounded to the top of area where Daniel Jimenez ran on to it and slammed the loose ball low into the net.
Nicaragua then had to withstand a late surge and furious final 10 minutes that saw defender Felix Zeledon put a clearing attempt off his own post in the 82nd, and Smith drive a 30-meter shot that Espinoza had to dive to knock around the right post.
Panama 2, El Salvador 0
Luis Renteria set up goals by Edwin Aguilar in the 25th and Armando Cooper in the 79th as Panama completed the first round as the only team not to concede a goal.
Aguilar outsprinted Salvador midfielder Deris Umanzor to a head a lofted cross by Renteria past Salvadoran keeper Dagoberto Portillo, and Cooper ran in unmarked to strike first-time a rolling ball less than 20 seconds after entering the game as a substitute.
Panama, seeking to defend its Central American crown it won for the first time in 2009, completed the first round by outscoring its opponents 6-0.
Both sides looked dangerous but only rarely seriously threatened the opposing goalkeepers.
El Salvador started the second half brightly and was in position to test Panamanian keeper Jaime Penedo before Arturo Alvarez shot wide of the near post from the right edge of the six-yard box in the 55th.
Panama manager Julio Dely Valdez gave the first minutes of the tournament to striker Blas Perez and defender Felipe Baloy, sending both in as substitutes in the final 25 minutes.