Tue | Nov 19, 2019

El Salvador’s Bonilla in history books

Published:Tuesday | June 18, 2019 | 12:31 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Curaçao Leandro Bacuna (right) plays the ball away from El Salvador’s Andres Flores in their Concacaf Gold Cup match at the National Stadium last night.
Curaçao Leandro Bacuna (right) plays the ball away from El Salvador’s Andres Flores in their Concacaf Gold Cup match at the National Stadium last night.

Nelson Bonilla became the first man to score in a Concacaf Gold Cup game on Jamaican soil last night. The El Salvadorian scored in first-half stoppage time to give his side a 1-0 win over Curaçao in their opening Group C match at the National Stadium, which made its tournament debut.

Bonilla capitalised on poor defensive play from the Curaçao defence to score the game’s only goal after an evenly contested first half.

For El Salvador coach, Carlos de los Cobos, three points was the most important thing.

“If we score one, two, three or four goals, we get the same points,” he said in the post-game press conference. “Curaçao is a better team with more experience, but we felt secure that at the end of the day, we got the three points.”

The first half was evenly contested, with both teams keeping possession well and looking for openings. However, there were not a lot of scoring chances in the half.

But Curaçao gifted the Central Americans the go-ahead goal just before the interval when a defender lost possession inside the area to striker Bonilla and the El Salvadorian forward punished his opponents from 12 yards out in added time.

After the break, Curaçao took the attacking initiative, but El Salvador stayed compact at the back and tried to hit on the counter. But both teams were continually let down by poor passes in the final third.

El Salvador did come close after the hour with a rasping free kick from Andres Flores that was cleared by a defender, but the clearance fell to the midfielder, who hit another cannon that was held by goalkeeper Eloy Room.

SCORING OPPORTUNITIES

Honduras continued to look the more dangerous team, and Carlos Portillo rattled the bar from a tight angle 15 minutes from time. A few minutes later, Bonilla was only denied his second through excellent goalkeeping from Room.

Bonilla controlled the ball with a defender in his back and hit a half-volley on the half-turn, but Room went full stretch to keep his effort out of the goal.

Curaçao coach Remko Bicentini thought they were unfortunate not to score.

“We had a lot of chances and the important thing is to score chances,” he said. “The first half, we had two to three chances, and didn’t score a goal, then [in the]last minute of the first half, they scored. The second half wasn’t our best play, but we had a chance in the last five minutes again.”