Honduras captures Copa Centroamericana crown

Honduras (pictured) celebrates after defeating Belize to capture the Copa Centroamericana title on January 22, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Imagene en Costa Rica)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Honduras (4W-1D-0L, 13 points) completed its 2017 Copa Centroamericana campaign unbeaten thanks to a 1-0 win over Belize (0-1-4, 1), finishing atop the six-team table and capturing its fourth-ever title.

Eddie Hernandez struck for the lone goal in the second half, giving him a tournament-best three and eliminating Belize from contention.

It is a fourth-ever Copa title for the Hondurans, who also lifted the trophy in 1993, 1995 and 2011.  Costa Rica, which won the previous two editions, holds the record with eight championships.

A scoreless first half gave way to end-to-end action in the last 45 minutes.

In the 52nd minute, after waves of attacks, Honduras nearly went ahead, but Oscar Salas’ effort from outside the box crashed off the crossbar.

Four minutes later, though, Hernandez finally broke through.  From the right wing, Marcelo Canales delivered a left-footed cross into Belize’s six-yard box.  Hernandez controlled beautifully with his left foot and then jabbed the ball into the back of the net with his right.

The Belizeans, though, refused to quit and nearly equalized in the 68th minute, only for Deon McCaulay to hit the woodwork.

Seconds later, Honduras raced down the field and Michael Chirinos’ bid to double the lead went just wide of the right post.

Belize goalkeeper Woodrow West prevented the Hondurans from netting an insurance goal, saving an Erick Andino attempt in the 72nd minute.

Later in the day, El Salvador and Nicaragua will battle for Central America’s final direct spot to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, while a Panama-Costa Rica encounter will close the curtain on the competition.