Demar Phillips scored twice in the second half to lift Jamaica to a 2-0 victory over 10-man Guatemala on Friday, a victory that secured Jamaica’s spot in the Gold Cup quarter-finals.
In the night’s second Group B match, Carlos Costly scored three times and Jerry Bengston twice as Honduras rallied from an early deficit to thump Grenada 7-1 and boost their chances of advancing.
Honduras now have four points and are second to Jamaica in the group. A point would be enough for them to reach the knockout stage, but Honduras could win the group with a victory over leaders Jamaica tomorrow.
In a game featuring little in the way of offensive fireworks, Phillips broke through for Jamaica in the 65th minute, collecting a ball from Keammar Daley and dribbling toward the left side of the penalty area.
He beat defender Jonathan Lopez then slotted a shot past Guatemalan goalkeeper Ricard Jerez.
Phillips added the insurance goal in the 78th minute. By then, Guatemala had been reduced to 10 men when Cristian Noriega received a second yellow card for a foul on Dane Richards in the 70th minute.
The victory gave Jamaica a maximum six points from their first two matches in the North and Central America and Caribbean regional championship.
The winners of the tournament earn a spot in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The second match of the night was, in contrast, a goal festival.
Clive Murray gave Grenada their first ever Gold Cup goal as he put the Spice Boys ahead in the 19th minute.
However, Honduras soon took control as Costly and Bengston combined for three goals in 10 minutes to put them 3-1 up.
Bengston equalized in the 26th minute and Costly put Honduras ahead a minute later. Bengston’s second goal made it 3-1 in the 36th minute.
Costly struck again in the 66th minute and 71st, Walter Martinez scored with three minutes remaining and Alfredo Mejia scored Honduras’ final goal in the 90th minute.
For Honduras, it was a welcome show of attacking power after a scoreless draw with Guatemala.
While Mexico have booked their quarter-final berth in Group A with two convincing wins, the team remained in turmoil on Friday, a day after Mexican soccer authorities provisionally suspended five players who tested positive for banned drug clenbuterol in a May 21 test during a pre-tournament training camp.
CONCACAF have said Mexico’s opening 5-0 victory over El Salvador would stand even though news of the positive tests had not yet come through, but the governing body for the region had yet to decide whether Mexico could call up players to replace those it had pulled out of the tournament.
Mexican officials sent the five players involved to Los Angeles for further tests. Federation officials say they believe the players inadvertently ingested the banned drug in contaminated meat.