Late in its match against New Zealand in the second game of Group B in the 2020 Olympic Games, Honduras looked like its tournament would come to a premature conclusion. Trailing 2-1, Honduras got some late magic to earn a 3-2 comeback win to stay alive in its bid to exceed 2016’s semifinal run in Brazil.
Real Salt Lake forward Douglas Martinez played 70 minutes for Honduras, registering two shots before being relieved by Juan Carlos Obregon late in the match as Honduras chased a 2-1 deficit.
Former Real Monarch Luis Palma scored the first goal for Honduras, heading in a corner from Jose Reyes just before halftime.
New Zealand was forced to make an early substitution when Winston Reid was injured in the opening minutes of the match and was replaced by George Stanger. Following the change, Honduras immediately went on the attack, but the effort from Edwin Rodriguez was blocked. Instead it was New Zealand that would take the early lead when Liberato Cacace scored a wonder goal in the 10th minute, retrieving a cleared corner and sending a left-footed rocket into the net for the 1-0 lead.
Martinez got his first real scoring chance in the 33rd minute, taking a pass from Reyes on the right side, but his shot sailed high. Then Palma evened it up just before halftime. Reyes put a corner kick into the box and Palma rose for a header that beat Michael Woud to tie it up at 1-1 in stoppage time.
In the second half, New Zealand wasted no time in reclaiming the lead. After Edwin Rodriguez had a shot blocked from the left side, the Kiwis went off to the races. The ball went wide to Elijah Just and he raced up the left side before sending a cross across the edge of the six-yard box to an on-rushing Chris Wood. The Burnley forward left no doubt, hammering a first-time shot into the open side of the goal to take a 2-1 lead in the 49th minute.
Honduras had chances to regain control of the match and finally took advantage under peculiar circumstances in the 78th minute. A backpass was played to Woud, but Obregon beat him to it and poked a shot past the keeper and it trickled into the open net to level at 2-2. Minutes later, Rigoberto Rivas played the hero, springing into the box and putting a shot from the left side just out of Woud’s reach for the game-winner in the 87th minute.
Honduras will face South Korea in the final match of the Group Stage on Wednesday at 2:30 a.m. MT. A win will ensure advancement to the quarterfinals.
Group B Standings
Romania (1-0-0, 3 points, +1 GD)
New Zealand (1-1-0, 3 points, 0 GD)
Honduras (1-1-0, 3 points, 0 GD)
South Korea (0-1-0, 0 points, -1 GD)
The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinal round.
Romania kicks off against South Korea at 5 a.m. MT on Sunday in the second match of the tournament for both countries.