By Samindra Kunti in Charlotte
June 2 – Honduras were eliminated from the Gold Cup despite a 2-1 victory against Haiti, a result rendered irrelevant because Qatar upset Mexico 1-0 in Group B’s other match. Haiti also depart the tournament.
In the end, there were no real winners in a match that saw Honduras fight back from a goal down to claim three points and move to four points in the group, but it was not enough as Carlos Queiroz’s team defeated El Tri. Haiti would have needed a draw to punch a knockout ticket.
Whenever Les Grenadiers attacked in the first half, they caused havoc to a shaky Honduran defence. In the 11th minute, Derrick Etienne curled a right-footed attempt from a prime position near the edge of the box just wide in a first major warning to Los Catrachos.
On three points, the Haitians knew they could move into the knockout stage with a point, and true to the words of their coach Gabriel Calderon, they simply attacked and their forward endeavours were rewarded in the 20th minute with a simple rebound goal from Frantzdy Pierrot. On eight goals, Pierrot matched his teammate Duckens Nazon as the top scorer for a Caribbean team in the tournament’s history.
Pierrot’s strike woke up Honduras, but Jorge Benuche, Joseph Rosales and Devron Garcia, with a powerful header, conld not find the equaliser.
In the stands, the supporters chanted ‘Yes, we can!’. Perhaps those calls did serve as an inspiration because by half-time the Central American side were level. In the 42nd minute, striker Jerry Bengtson moved ahead for his marker to equalise with a glancing header, 1-1.
Returning from the dressing room, Haiti attacked again, wave after wave but without an end product, and, as so often in football, they were left to rue that attacking indecisiveness. José Pinto’s low 59th-minute shot punished the Haitians, but Jorge Álvarez was the true architect of the goal with a delightful chipped assist that exposed the Haitian defence.
The second goal sent the partisan crowd into a frenzy, leaving the Hondurans praying for a Mexican goal against Qatar. The match was getting more and more stretched. Haiti, however, were tired, displaying little urgency to fight back. Both sides claimed a penalty but got none.
With nine minutes of injury time, the Haiti manager introduced FC Versailles’s Mondy Prunier as an extra attacking option and Fafá Picault’s long-distance attempt rattled the post. Haiti ramped up the pressure, but Jaryo Jean’s chip did not deceive Edrick Menjivar. The Caribbean nation threw all bodies forward in a desperate search for a last-gasp equalizer that would see them through to the last eight. In the end, it wasn’t to be and just like their opponents they were on the way out.
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