Mexico Put An End To 360 Minutes Of Scoreless Misery For Honduras

An early goal from Rodolfo Pizarro was enough to send Mexico through to the Gold Cup semifinals.

Mexico defeated Honduras 1-0 to advance to the Gold Cup semifinals behind an early goal from Rodolfo Pizarro, and they’ll now play Jamaica in a rematch of the 2015 final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Honduras gave an excellent account of themselves when they really had every right to implode on the night. Unable to score in the group stage and only in the quarterfinals by virtue of French Guiana’s decision to field Florent Malouda, los Catrachos watched their Gold Cup campaign go from bad to worse in the buildup to this game when manager Jorge Luis Pinto briefly lost his mind.

Pinto famously led Costa Rica to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, but with Honduras stuttering in 2018 World Cup qualification, he’ll probably be sacked tonight or in the next few days following four goalless matches at the Gold Cup. 

His critique of the tournament before the match, saying that the competition is designed to give Mexico and the U.S. a clear path to the final, was basically just an admission to his squad that he thought they were going to get spanked.

In only the 4th minute, Pinto’s gift of foresight appeared to be at a Nostradamus level. Some shoddy defending from Honduras allowed Chivas midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro to finish off a low cross from Jesus Duenas, and the rout could’ve been well and truly on. 

Suddenly, it made perfect sense why French Guiana knocked themselves out of the tournament, and you got the feeling that Honduras were a bit envious and annoyed at having to play a fourth game.

But, to be fair, Honduras pushed the pace of the match and worked hard to disrupt any developing rhythm from El Tri. However, Honduras never threatened and Mexico looked comfortable with the 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

There was a huge moment of note in the 47th when a Honduran player bravely charged at a Mexico corner and blocked it. The ref had it retaken, but you just don’t see that kind of spirited effort often — mainly because it’s not legal and most people know that.

Honduras shifted into a more attacking formation with the introduction of the Houston Dynamo's Boniek Garcia, and they landed a couple of shots on target without really troubling Jose Corona until a near-olímpico goal in the 78th.

Honduras managed to break dangerously a few times, but Mexico remained composed and relatively well-structured throughout the course of the 90 minutes. It got about as uncomfortable as a trip to the porta potty on a hot day for Mexico — it wasn't entirely pleasant, but it had to be done.

Ultimately, does the victory take any pressure off Juan Carlos Osorio? Probably not. Do Mexico really need to step up their game to win this tournament? It’s difficult to say, but probably not.

Jamaica and the U.S. or Costa Rica are certainly more difficult opponents than Honduras, but no side has really managed to distinguish themselves at this Gold Cup. 

So Honduras leave the tournament at the quarterfinal stage without having scored a goal in 360 minutes, and Jorge Luis Pinto is likely out of a job only three years after taking Costa Rica to unprecedented heights. 

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