Goals from Anthony Lozano and Bryan Rochez led Honduras to a 2-0 win against Mexico in the opener of a two-legged Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal series that will serve as a qualifier for next year’s Copa America.
Hosted in Honduras’ Estadio Nacional Chelato Ucles on Friday, the match first began with early complications for Mexico after an injury for goalkeeper and captain Guillermo Ochoa. Unable to continue in the first half, Ochoa was substituted out in the 22nd minute for backup Angel Malagon.
Problems for El Tri continued to escalate with the home side shortly finding the back after the substitution.
Following a well-placed pass from Luis Palma, striker Lozano provided Honduras with a 1-0 lead through a goal in the 30th minute.
Galvanized by opening the scoresheet, the Central Americans tested the net once again moments later, forcing Malagon to make his first save of the night.
Shortly before the halftime whistle, Honduras would once again come close to scoring after a lofted shot from Palma was cleared on the goal line by Mexico fullback Jesús Gallardo.
In the second half, El Tri were unable to resolve any of their issues that became more prominent through their listless attack.
Despite the introductions of winger Uriel Antuna, midfielder Luis Chávez, forward Raúl Jiménez and the debut of winger Julián Quiñones off the bench, Mexico manager Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano was held scoreless against a resolute Honduras backline.
On the other end of the field, the hosts would then make it 2-0 off a goal from Rochez that followed a clever run from Jorge Álvarez in the 72nd minute.
Holding strong with a conservative approach in the final stages, Honduras would go on to secure their 2-0 win by the final whistle.
Both sides will now meet for the second leg in Mexico on Nov. 21. The winners, determined by aggregate goals and with away-goals as a possible tiebreaker, will qualify for the next round of the Nations League and for the 2024 Copa America.
The losing quarterfinalists will have another opportunity to qualify for the Copa America through a single-elimination play-in match next March.