Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 16 News List

FIFA: Wood rescues US with late goal in Honduras draw

AFP, SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras

Hamburg SV striker Bobby Wood on Tuesday scored a late equalizer to salvage a crucial 1-1 draw for the US in their FIFA World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

Wood bundled in an 85th-minute leveler just 12 minutes after coming on as a substitute to rescue a point for the US in sweltering conditions at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula.

The result means that Bruce Arena’s side still have automatic qualification in their own hands, with a home match against Panama next month followed by an away game against Trinidad and Tobago.

If the US win both of those games, they will be assured of reaching next year’s finals in Russia.

“That’s a huge point for the US team,” Arena said afterward. “I’m really proud of our team.”

Arena insisted the team had not set out to play for a draw, saying that the US path to Russia is still far from straightforward.

“We didn’t come here to play for a point. We fell behind a goal and tried to get it back. The team deserves credit for getting a point,” he said. “There’s not even a crack open in the door to Russia for us. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

It was a lucky escape for the US, who were beaten in their previous game on Friday last against Costa Rica and could not afford a second defeat.

Arena rolled the dice with seven changes from the team beaten by Costa Rica, but the gamble appeared set to backfire when Romell Quioto punished sloppy US defending midway through the first half to score.

The best US chance of the opening 45 minutes came when Christian Pulisic played a one-two with Morris, only to see his shot saved.

There was little more to cheer for the US fans in the second half, as Arena’s men struggled to make any impression on the hosts.

The best chances of the second half fell to Honduras, with Alexander Lopez seeing a thunderous shot on 61 minutes parried by Brad Guzan.

Anthony Lozano also continued to cause problems, and saw his shot crash into the outside of the stanchion on 77th minute after he had skipped clear of Michael Bradley.

With what would have been a disastrous defeat beckoning, the US were given a lifeline five minutes from time with a free-kick in a dangerous position.

Kellyn Acosta stepped up to curl a shot against the bar and in the ensuing melee, Wood coolly tucked away the finish.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Costa Rica squandered the chance to book their ticket to Russia after being held 1-1 at home by Mexico. Mexico, who have already qualified, took the lead through a Cristian Gamboa own-goal on 42 minutes. Costa Rica hit back through Marco Urena seven minutes from time.

In the other game, Panama moved into the automatic qualifying places in third spot after defeating Trinidad and Tobago 3-0.

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