Costa Rica, El Salvador tussle to scoreless stalemate

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Two-time defending champion Costa Rica extended its Copa Centroamericana unbeaten streak to nine games, playing El Salvador to a 0-0 draw in the 2017 opener for each on Friday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

The draw means that Honduras, which earned a 2-1 win over Nicaragua earlier, remains provisionally in first place on three points, with host Panama and Belize slated to complete a tripleheader later in the evening.

In a match that produced a limited number of clear scoring opportunities, El Salvador had the first half’s best in the 18th minute, when goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton somehow managed to tip over the crossbar Oscar Ceren’s right-footed rocket from 13-yards out.

Eight minutes later, Nelson Bonilla did well to control the ball in the box and create space to elude four defenders, only for his shot from nine yards to roll far beyond the left post.

Francisco Calvo thought he put Costa Rica ahead in the 63rd minute, but his goal-bound header off Marvin Angulo’s right-sided corner kick was cleared off the line by El Salvador defender Alexander Larin.

In the 65th minute, Bonilla received a pass in the left side of the box and looked to have Pemberton beat, but the Alajuelense standout got a hand on a low effort.

With the result, Costa Rica extended its Copa unbeaten streak to nine games (6W-3D-0L), while El Salvador posted a third shutout in its last four tournament outings.

Next games -- Sunday, January 15, 2017
Belize v Costa Rica
El Salvador v Honduras