Soccer-Honduras beat United States to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

March 28 (Reuters) - Honduras punched their ticket to the men’s soccer competition at this year’s Tokyo Games with a 2-1 semi-final victory over the United States at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sunday.

Los Catrachos, who finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics after falling to hosts Brazil in the semi-finals, went ahead on goals by American-born Honduran Juan Carlos Obregon and Luis Palma before the U.S. pulled one back in the 52nd minute.

Honduras, who have qualified for four consecutive Olympics, opened the scoring in the final seconds of first-half stoppage time when Obregon bundled the ball home after Denil Maldonado headed it across the face of the goal.

Disaster struck for the Americans in the 47th minute when goalkeeper David Ochoa got caught in possession and his pass was swiftly blocked by Palma and bounced straight into the net for what proved to be the game-winning goal.

The United States, who have not qualified for the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games, got on the board when Jackson Yueill rifled in a shot from outside the area.

Honduras, who reached the semi-finals of the eight-team tournament as the top team in Group B, will next face either Mexico or Canada in Tuesday’s final.

Group A winner Mexico and Canada are playing in Sunday’s second semi-final to determine the other team that represents North and Central America and the Caribbean at the July 23-Aug. 8 Tokyo Olympics.

As both semi-final winners qualify for the Olympics, the final qualification match is essentially an exhibition.

The eight-team tournament was originally scheduled to be held in March 2020 but was postponed because of COVID-19. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christopher Cushing)