Costa Rica (4W-4D-1L, 16 points) earned a berth in the 2018 FIFA World Cup on the strength of a 1-1 draw with visiting Honduras (2-4-3, 10) in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying on Saturday at the Estadio Nacional.
Kendall Waston’s late header leveled for the host, who fell behind on Eddie Hernandez’s goal, in an encounter postponed a day due to Tropical Storm Nate.
With 10 points through nine games, Honduras’ ability to secure an automatic place at Russia 2018 is uncertain. The Catrachos remain fifth in the Hexagonal table, trailing the third-place United States (3-3-3, 12) by two points and fourth-place Panama (2-4-3, 10) on goal difference (-2 to -7).
Only one of that trio will join first-place Mexico (6-3-0, 21) and second-place Costa Rica as the region’s direct qualifiers. All six sides will complete CONCACAF play on Tuesday with the U.S. facing last-place host Trinidad & Tobago (1-0-8, 3), Panama entertaining Costa Rica, and Honduras welcoming the Mexicans to San Pedro Sula.
Hernandez gave the current Central American champion a 1-0 lead in the 66th minute, when he headed Romell Quioto’s left-sided cross past goalkeeper Keylor Navas from eight-yards out. It was Hernandez’s second goal of the current qualifying campaign.
Honduras appeared on the verge of a momentous victory until the fifth minute of stoppage time. From the right wing, Bryan Ruiz did well to burst past Emilio Izaguirre and deliver a cross into the box that Waston – surrounded closely by three defenders — headed beyond helpless goalkeeper Donis Escober.
Costa Rica reached the World Cup quarter finals in 2014, while Honduras is looking to make a third consecutive appearance in the event.