Pappa brace propels Guatemala into CCA final

Players from Guatemala (pictured) celebrate after scoring in a 2-0 win over Honduras in the Central American Cup on September 10, 2014, at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. (Photo: Mexsport)

HOUSTON -- Guatemala reached the Central American Cup (CCA) final for the first time in almost two decades by recording a 2-0 Group A win over Honduras, while clinching a spot in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup at BBVA Compass Stadium on Wednesday night.

Marco Pappa recorded his second multi-goal game in the competition to pace the group winners, who last played for the regional championship match in 1995.  The Guatemalans (3-0-0, 9 points) were the only side of the seven teams that won all of its group stage matches.

The Hondurans (1-0-2, 3), who reached the recent FIFA World Cup, finished third in the group.  They will meet Nicaragua in the fifth-place match at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 3 p.m. PT Saturday to determine which team will play the Caribbean Cup's fifth-place side for the last Gold Cup berth.  The Caribbean competition will be held from Nov. 9-18.

The Chapines, unbeaten in seven of their last eight CCA matches, will play Group B winner Costa Rica for the title at the Coliseum at 9 p.m. PT Saturday.

Pappa enjoyed a Man of the Match performance.  His first effort, a shot from distance in the 11th minute, sailed wide left, but that did not deter him.

After teammate Carlos Ruiz sent a six-yard attempt over the crossbar two minutes later, Pappa drilled a 24-yard effort off the bar and past an outstretched goalkeeper Luis Lopez in the 37th minute.  The ball bounded into the net for the Seattle Sounders midfielder's third goal of the tournament after scoring twice in a 2-1 opening win over El Salvador.

Pappa became the first Guatemalan to score more than one goal in the CCA since Juan Carlos Plata and Edwin Villatoro did so in 2005.

He added an insurance goal in the 80th minute, finding some room by making a nifty move on Honduras captain Juan Pablo Montes just outside the right side the penalty area before unleashing a shot into the lower left far corner.

Guatemala did not allow Honduras many dangerous opportunities, allowing goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez to record his first shutout of the tournament.

 To view the Highlights of this game, click here