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U.S., Mexico earn wins

Americans beat Guatemala, 1-0, on the road, and host Mexicans defeat Honduras, 2-1, in World Cup qualifiers.

August 21, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

The United States and Mexico made hard going of it against Central American opposition Wednesday night but came away with World Cup qualifying victories over Guatemala and Honduras, respectively.

A 69th-minute headed goal by Carlos Bocanegra off a DaMarcus Beasley corner kick earned the U.S. a 1-0 win, its first in Guatemala in more than 20 years and only its second ever. It was Bocanegra's 10th goal for the national team.

The match in front of a sellout crowd at Guatemala City's Estadio Mateo Flores was tense, with tempers barely under control, and each side had a player ejected in the second half.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard kept the U.S. in the match with some clutch saves as the Guatemalans attacked in numbers only to be denied by their own poor finishing or by Howard's heroics.

The victory earned the U.S. three points and put it in second place behind Trinidad and Tobago, which defeated Cuba, 3-1, in Havana to take the Group A lead. The U.S. plays Cuba in Havana on Sept. 6.

Mexico, meanwhile, gave former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson a 2-1 victory in his first game in charge, but it was anything but easy and only because of the skill and finishing ability of veteran Pavel Pardo.

In front of a packed Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, with the crowd including the presidents of both countries, Honduras took the lead in the 35th minute, very much against the run of play, when Julio Cesar Leon struck a free kick off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

Although Mexico's Fernando Arce hit the right post with a shot and the left post with a header, the Hondurans still were ahead when Eriksson sent Cuauhtemoc Blanco into the match in the 70th minute.

Suddenly, Mexico's fortunes changed.

Honduras headed the ball seemingly out of danger in the 74th minute, but it went straight to an unmarked Pardo, who sent a 25-yard volley screaming into the net to tie the score.

Less than two minutes later, Pardo, playing in his 142nd international match, took a free kick to the left of the Honduran net and watched almost in disbelief as the ball bounced once in the penalty area and then went in off the right post without another player touching it.

It was Pardo's 10th goal for his country and clinched three points and the Group B lead for Mexico.

In the same group, Canada was held to a 1-1 tie by Jamaica in Toronto, leaving both teams with a point.

Group C saw Costa Rica edge El Salvador, 1-0, in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Haiti and Suriname played to a 2-2 tie in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Among the dozens of international friendly games Wednesday, world champion Italy, under returning Coach Marcello Lippi, was held to a 2-2 tie by Austria in Nice, France; European champion Spain rolled over Denmark, 3-0, in Copenhagen with Xabi Alonso scoring twice, and England was booed off the field in London after a 2-2 tie with the Czech Republic in a game that saw David Beckham create the first English goal.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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