Panama blew a lead late yet again, as Honduras fought back to earn a 1-1 draw and breathe life into their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign in Foxborough.
Luis Tejada knocked in the opener just after the 20-minute mark, putting the 2013 runners-up in a strong position to get their first win of the ’15 showpiece.
Honduras boss Jorge Luis Pinto’s frustration was clear throughout, and that built to a crescendo when Honduras had a goal ruled out for offside midway through the second half.
However, Pinto would be smiling with 10 minutes to go when Andy Najar narrowly avoided embarrassment – tapping in after Jaime Penedo saved his penalty attempt.
Referee Marlon Mejia had pointed to the spot after Armando Cooper clipped the back of Najar’s legs inside the area, and the Anderlecht midfielder’s fourth international goal earned Honduras their first point of the campaign.
Eddie Hernandez was dramatically denied a winner, with his effort deep into second-half injury time waved off – not before Honduras began wildly celebrating the perceived goal.
Honduras’ tendency to give away free-kicks in dangerous positions came back to hurt them, in the 21st minute – when the Panamanians took an indirect route to goal at Gillette Stadium.
Gabriel Gomez laid a ball around the wall to Cooper, whose low cross flicked up off a Honduras defender and into the path of Tejada.
Tejada had a simple chested finish for his 39th international goal – moving two clear of team-mate Blas Perez as Panama’s all-time leading scorer.
Earlier, Anibal Godoy had forced Donis Escober to tip over his crossbar from a set-piece, before Gabriel Gomez’s powerful effort from a free-kick was parried strongly by a diving Escober.
Honduras’ best chance of the opening period fell the way of Carlos Discua, who met Jonny Palacios’ powerful volley across goal with his head – but a wrong-footed Penedo still managed to keep his sheet clean.
Discua had earlier forced Penedo into action for the first time in the match, with a lashing left-foot effort from just outside the six-yard box.
Tensions between the two sides reached boiling point following a Bryan Beckeles challenge on Alberto Quintero in the area, and while the penalty appeals were waved away, Honduras coach Pinto was livid with the lack of a card for simulation.
Pinto and opposite number Hernan Gomez were also engaged in exchanges, the two Colombians showing there was no camaraderie despite their aligned heritage.
Both sides were in familiar territory in the second half – Panama trying to hold onto a one-goal lead as they failed to do against Haiti, and Honduras trying to come from behind as they were unable to do against United States.
Honduras thought they had equalised in the 66th minute, when substitute Hernandez nodded in the rebound from Mario Martinez’s effort – which was denied only by the crossbar.
It would have been a fitting response, as Honduras took an indirect free-kick to Martinez at the top of the penalty area – but Hernandez was correctly ruled to be in an offside position.
But Honduras’ disappointment later turned to joy, as Najar earned them a valuable point in Group A.
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