Honduras edges Nicaragua in Copa Centroamericana opener

Honduras' Erick Andino (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Nicaragua in a Copa Centroamericana match on January 13, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Honduras fell behind on an own-goal, but rallied to defeat Nicaragua, 2-1, in the first match of the 2017 Copa Centroamericana (CCA) on Friday at the Estadio Rommel.

The result provisionally put the Hondurans atop the six-team table with two-time defending champion Costa Rica taking on El Salvador and host Panama squaring off against Belize later in the evening.

Honduras improved to 9W-2D-3L in CCA openers, while Nicaragua remained winless (0-2-12).

The Nicaraguans, however, went ahead 1-0 in the 19th minute, when a hurried Honduras clearance went directly to Juan Barrera on the right wing. The Comunicaciones attacker’s subsequent cross into the box was deflected slightly by defender Henry Figueroa and bounced inside the left post despite the flailing efforts of goalkeeper to prevent the inadvertent error.

Four minutes later, the sides were on level terms. From the right side of the penalty area, Cristian Altamirano delivered a cross in between the six-yard box and the penalty spot, where Eddie Hernandez was positioned to snap a right-footed shot. Nicaragua defender Jason Casco tried to make a block, but the ball still found the right side of the net.

Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto brought on Erick Andino for Diego Reyes in the second half and the decision paid dividends ten minutes later. In the 69th minute, after a rasping right-footed effort from outside the box by Michael Chirinos was saved by goalkeeper Justo Lorente, the rebound fell to a quick-reacting Andino, who slotted home with his right foot from six yards.

Both sides return to action on Sunday as Honduras meets El Salvador and Nicaragua battles Panama.