PASADENA, California: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones struck a superb 73rd minute equalizer to earn his country a 2-2 draw with El Salvador while Honduras defeated Haiti 2-0 in CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B games on Monday.
The outstanding Rodolfo Zelaya scored twice for El Salvador and almost grabbed a spectacular winner in what was a pulsating, entertaining encounter at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena.
Trinidad and Tobago grabbed the lead in the 11th minute when Keon Daniel burst through the middle of the El Salvador defense and confidently slotted home.
El Salvador, playing at high-tempo and making good use of the flanks, drew level 10 minutes later with a magnificent curling 25-yard free-kick from Zelaya.
Rafael Burgos hit the post for the Salvadorians four minutes before the interval but they went ahead in the 69th minute when Zelaya met a perfect cross from Darwin Ceren with a fine diving header.
The lead lasted just four minutes before striker Jones took a long ball down on his chest, broke goalwards and fired in a powerful left foot shot.
Both sides continued to pile forward and Zelaya almost had a hat-trick and the winner with an acrobatic effort that was tipped over the bar by Trinidad keeper Jan Michael Williams.
In the later group game Haiti, fresh from last month’s friendly draw with Italy and narrow 2-1 loss to Spain, paid the price for their lack of sharpness in the final third.
Honduras took the lead in the fourth minute with Mario Martinez breaking from midfield and slipping the ball inside to Rony Martinez who fired home.
Haiti played plenty of positive attacking football but too often their moves broke down near the penalty area or ended with hasty finishing.
One of their best chances came in the 20th minute when Jeff Louis crossed to an unmarked Leonel Saint Preux but the striker leaned back and blasted over the bar. The Hondurans rode their luck a little in the second half but made sure of the win with 12 minutes remaining when Marvin Chavez finished off a low cross from Bryan Beckeles.
Tuesday sees the start of Group C action with Costa Rica against Cuba and hosts the United States against Belize in Portland.
Nigerian teams in 79-0, 67-0 games suspended
In Abuja,Nigeria, the Nigeria Football Federation says it has suspended all four teams involved in “scandalous scorelines” after two lower-league soccer clubs chasing promotion and needing to boost their goal difference won games by 79-0 and 67-0.
In the matches, played at the same time, the Plateau United Feeders reportedly scored 72 of their goals in the second half to beat Akurba FC 79-0. Police Machine reportedly scored 61 times against Babayaro FC in the second 45 minutes of their 67-0 game.
The NFF calls it “a mind-boggling show of shame” and says players, match officials and the tournament coordinator all will be investigated for match-fixing.
The NFF director of competitions says “anyone found to have played some role in this despicable matter” will be “severely dealt with.”