By FRANCO PANIZO
The 2011 Central American Cup in Panama came to a close on Sunday, and World Cup participant Honduras walked away victorious.
Honduras claimed its third Central American title, defeating a 10-man Costa Rica side, 2-1, in Panama City. Los Catrachos took an early lead through a rifled finish from close range by Walter Martinez in the 8th minute, and Emil Martinez added a second off a free kick in the 53rd.
Down a man after former Chivas USA loanee Dario Delgado was sent off for a second yellow, Costa Rica pulled one back in the 73rd when Marco Urena (who tied El Salvador's Rafael Burgos to claim the tournament's golden boot with three goals) finessed a low shot just inside the post. Los Ticos followed that up with a flurry of attempts as the game opened up in the final 10 minutes, but they never found an equalizer.
Honduras' victory now gives the nation confidence as it prepares for its next big tournament: the 2011 Gold Cup. Honduras will be joined in CONCACAF's biggest international event by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama and Guatemala.
Those five countries will compete with the United States, Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Cuba and Grenada in June for a chance to represent CONCACAF at the 2013 Confederations Cup.
The draw for the Gold Cup is expected to take place in February.
If you missed the final or want to see the goals again, here they are:
What do you think of Hondruas' 2-1 win over Costa Rica? Which teams are you hoping the United States draws in the Gold Cup?
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