Honduras tops 9-man El Salvador on Castillo brace
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Action from the Copa Centroamericana match between Honduras (white jersey) and El Salvador on January 15, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Rubilio Castillo scored a pair of goals in the second half to help Honduras (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) rally past nine-man El Salvador (0-1-1, 1), 2-1, in the second match of a Copa Centroamericana tripleheader on Sunday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez. 

With the result, as the only team with a perfect record, the Hondurans will finish the second matchday in first place regardless of a meeting between host Panama (0-1-0, 1) and Nicaragua (0-0-1, 0) later in the evening.  Costa Rica (1-1-0, 4) earned a 3-0 win over Belize (0-1-1, 1) in the opener. 

It was a harsh turn of events for a Salvadoran side that was optimistic after playing the two-time defending champion Costa Ricans to a scoreless draw on Friday. 

Rodolfo Zelaya, the first half’s dominant figure, gave El Salvador a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute.  The Alianza standout received an Oscar Ceren feed, eluded defender Henry Figueroa and held off Marcelo Pereira to beat goalkeeper Donis Escober with his right foot from 13-yards out while falling down. 

For all his positive contributions offensively, Zelaya’s 57th-minute ejection – on the heels of a hard tackle on Erick Andino – had a detrimental impact on the Salvadorans as five minutes later, the sides were on level terms. 

Andino, 28 yards from the Salvadoran net, threaded a splendid through ball into the box for Castillo, who slotted past Benji Villalobos with his right foot from nine-yards out. 

Just when it look like El Salvador could hold on for a second straight draw, Alexander Larin was dismissed in the 89th minute for a high boot into Michael Chirinos’ right hip. 

Once again, the Hondurans capitalized quickly on their two-man advantage.  

In the 90th minute, Chirinos delivered a right-sided cross that sailed barely over Andino’s head.  Castillo was positioned just a few yards to his left and chested down the ball in the box.  The 25-year-old’s first attempt was blocked by Oscar Ceren, but Castillo remained composed to fire his own rebound into the back of the net from 14-yards out. 

Honduras improved to 8-3-2 against El Salvador in Copa Centroamericana play. 

What’s next?

Both sides return to action on January 17…El Salvador will meet Belize, while Honduras takes on Panama.