Haiti 1, Honduras 0 | CONCACAF Gold Cup Match Recap
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Haiti made the most of one good chance. Honduras waited too long for perfect chances that never came.
Les Grenadieres put themselves in position to make the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time since 2009, closing out Group A play on Monday night with a 1-0 win behind Duckens Nazon's opportunistic 14th-minute strike.
That gave them four points, good for second place behind the US – who had already guaranteed a quarterfinal berth with victories in their first two games and finished atop the group after a 1-1 draw in the Group A finale.
Honduras finished last, on one point. Los Catrachos, who had made the last three semifinal rounds and four of the last five, failed to get out of the group stage for the first time since 2003 – and hardly looked like the squad that qualified for the last two World Cups.
It took only a matter of seconds for the ball to go end-to-end on Haiti's early winner, which came with the help of two defensive lapses on Honduras' part.
Keeper Johny Placide sent a long ball out of the back, and Kervins Belfort flicked it on into the Honduran penalty area. Defender Maynor Figueroa failed to beat Nazon to the bounce, and Nazon stretched around him and skipped his shot past an out-of-position Donis Escober and inside the far post.
Belfort had to be stretchered off in the 26th minute, though, after he landed awkwardly from a challenge in the air. He was replaced by Jean-Eudes Maurice.
Despite needing all three points to have a chance at advancing, Honduras responded tentatively to the early deficit – making errant crosses and extra passes in the attacking third instead of shooting or driving on the goal, and failing to put a shot on frame until halftime sub Eddie Hernandez drove a low ball right at Placide in the 58th minute.
Haiti were content to let the Central American side take that cautious tack, keeping numbers behind the ball and collapsing into the passing lanes whenever Honduras came forward, although the Hondurans' energy level and urgency began to pick up around the hour mark.
Still, despite finishing even on total shots at 8-8 (after taking just one in the first half), Los Catrachos struggled to find the target and forced only one save from Placide in his first clean sheet of the tournament.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.