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Jamaica hold Mexico, Honduras beat USA
Published : 07 Feb 2013 07:16:55
Jamaica held Mexico to a goalless draw and the United States fell 2-1 at Honduras as the final round of CONCACAF regional qualifying for the 2014 World Cup kicked off.
In Panama City, Costa Rica rallied from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Panama in the other match on the opening day of the six-nation final round in North and Central America and the Caribbean region.
The three top teams will qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. The fourth-place team will face a team from Oceania for another berth.
Jamaica came away from Azteca Stadium with a valuable point after holding the hosts to a 0-0 draw.
The first half featured a few close calls, including Jamaican midfielder Jobi McAnuff's near miss after his header hit the post and rebounded at his feet. He was unable to take advantage, slotting the ball right to Mexico goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona.
Mexico pressed the attack throughout the first half. Jamaica held fast with disciplined defense and managed to create some quality chances -- including Ryan Johnson's opportunity in the second half, when he was alone in front of the goal but fired directly at Corona.
In San Pedro Sula, Jerry Bengtson's 79th-minute strike lifted Honduras to a 2-1 victory over the United States.
The New England Revolution striker knocked in the decider, aided by a blunder from a US defensive unit with relatively few World Cup qualifying caps while American veteran Carlos Bocanegra was watching from the bench.
Juan Carlos Garcia netted a spectacular bicycle kick for Honduras to equalize in the 39th minute after the visitors had seized the lead on a goal by Tottenham's Clint Dempsey in the 36th.
The critical stretch began when Oscar Garcia pushed the ball past US defender Geoff Cameron.
US goalkeeper Tim Howard, who plays for English side Everton, came after the ball but Oscar Garcia flicked the ball past him into the empty penalty area where an onrushing Bengtson kicked it home before a sliding Omar Gonzalez could stop him.
Juan Carlos Garcia had pulled Honduras level earlier in the game with another superb effort.
Maynor Figueroa took a centering pass on the chest and deflected the ball into the crowded heart of the penalty area, where Juan Carlos Garcia made an incredible somersault and followed with a hammering kick past Howard.
Dempsey put the Americans ahead 1-0 by taking a perfect lob centering pass from Jermaine Jones in full stride while leaping into the air on a run midway through the penalty area.
Without an instant's pause, Dempsey blasted the ball past Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares to open the scoring.
"Our mistakes were individual mistakes that happen," said US coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "We had trouble closing down their passing lanes.
"Not too many players reached their potential," he added. "It's difficult to come out with a win here if you don't have everybody at 100 percent."
The defeat meant the United States were the only team to emerge from the opening day of action without a point.
In Panama City, Luis Henriquez in the 16th minute and Roman Torres in the 27th put the hosts up 2-0.
But Costa Rica clawed back, with Alvaro Saborio scoring in the 40th and Brian Ruiz grabbing the equalizer in the 84th.