Group D: Honduras 4 Grenada 0
July 14 – Honduran fans roared their team on to a comfortable win in the BBVA Stadium in Houston last night. Having belted out their national anthem they went through their full repertoire of chants to Mexican waves in anticipation of a long run in the competition.
Honduras are the top ranked team in Group D. Perennial Concacaf challengers they have never quite made it to parity with Mexico and the USA regionally. After a strong Nations League finals performance where they narrowly missed out on making the final, the Gold Cup gives them an opportunity to measure their improvement.
So confident were the Hondurans that they didn’t start with their leading scorer Alberth Elis.
In contrast Grenada, who draw the bulk of their players from England’s lower professional leagues, are playing in their first Gold Cup finals since 2011 and their third overall. They qualified as one of the four Group B Nations League winners.
Honduras dominated possession early on but it was Grenada’s Jamal Ray Charles who should have opened the scoring on 12 minutes, pushing his shot wide of the left post.
The Hondurans were a threat on the wings with Felix Cristano on the right continually finding space to cross. But a well marshalled Grenadan back four with goalkeeper Reice Cook looking more than capable looked to be in control.
So it was somewhat ironic that the breakthrough came from a Cook error on 27 minutes. With the ball at his feet and under no pressure, Cook was too casual and allowed incoming forward Jerry Bengtson to steal and tap in.
It was the signal for Honduras to take control of the ball and run the game at their pace.
On 51 minutes Honduras were two up. Alexander Lopez, who dominated the midfield throughout, slid the ball through to Edwin Solano who had a clear run at Cook to score.
On 64 minutes Elis entered the game, much to the delight of the Honduran fans. His real contribution will be required in the matches to come.
Grenada had their moments and there was no lack of effort but they couldn’t hold the ball long enough to sustain pressure. They should have scored on 79 minutes but despite all their commitment, Honduras were never really in trouble.
On 84 minutes Honduras put the match doubt. Deybi Flores put Johnny Lerveron through score. Two minutes later substitute Romell Quito made it four latching on to a similar through ball.
On Saturday Honduras will play Panama in front of the a full house here. Grenada have the daunting prospect of Qatar.
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