So much for confidence.
Carlos Costly scored two goals and Carlos Pavon added another as Honduras tore apart a weak Mexico side 3-1 in Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula on Wednesday night.
The loss was Mexico's second setback in three World Cup qualifiers. Mexico have three points while Honduras, who played their first home match in the Hexagonal phase, improved to four points this round.
Nery Castillo scored Mexico's lone goal on a penalty kick, after El Tri had fallen behind by three goals.
Mexico had beaten Costa Rica 2-0 on Saturday and appeared to have regained their swagger with their convincing victory over los Ticos. Instead, the road woes again plagued Mexico. El Tricolor fell to 0-4-1 in their last five World Cup qualifying matches played outside of Mexico.
The match actually started well for Mexico. Barely 43 seconds in, Carlos Vela drew a foul just outside the arc. The foul, which would be a bit of a theme in the early going, set up Luis Perez as the Monterrey man fired a free kick on goal. Honduras 'keeper Noel Valladares dived and parried the ball away.
Honduras then began to put pressure on the Mexican backline. In the ninth minute, Pavon found space in the middle of the field and dribbled the ball toward the penalty area, but his delay in releasing a shot led to a poor angle and ultimately wasted opportunity. Ramon Nuñez had another chance three minutes later but he pushed his 20-yard shot just high over the crossbar - he'd caught Guillermo Ochoa off his line and nearly made him pay.
Mexico had a chance to break through in the 17th minute when Leandro Augusto ripped a 25-yard free kick on goal but Valladares did well to stop the ball on the line.
On their ensuing possession, Honduras broke through. Costly controlled a ball on the left flank - and appeared to do so with help from his left hand. He muscled Leobardo Lopez off the ball, dribbled into the penalty area and ripped a left-footed shot between Ochoa's legs and into the back of the net.
Costly's goal ensured that Mexico would once again give up a goal in a road qualifier. Mexico allowed a total of four goals in three away matches during the semifinal phase and combined with their 2-0 loss at the U.S. in February, Costly's goal was the seventh allowed by El Tri in their last five road qualifiers.
Still, Honduras were close to giving the lead right back. Pavel Pardo and Andres Guardado were each fouled some 20 yards out on separate occasions some five minutes apart. The first shot went nowhere, but the second attempt nearly pulled Mexico level. Pardo sent his free kick just wide of the goal as his 20-yard shot missed the left post by mere feet.
Mexico suffered a loss in the 27th minute as Lopez was unable to continue. Minutes earlier, Lopez appeared to hurt his foot on a free kick attempt by Mexico, and the Pachuca defender hobbled around for a few minutes before he was replaced. Aaron Galindo came on in Lopez's place.
It was not until the end of the first half that Honduras struck again. Mauricio Sabillon sliced through Mexico's defense, leaving behind Augusto and Pardo, and played a ball to Pavon inside the penalty area. Pavon slipped past the Mexican defense, chested the ball to himself and hit a side volley into the back of the net.
The goal was reminiscent of his performance eight years ago for Honduras. Pavon scored three goals in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Mexico in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.
Mexico manager Sven-Goran Eriksson replaced Perez with Matias Vuoso at the break and began the second half with three strikers in Vela, Bravo and Vuoso.
The move did not pay off immediately, as Mexico did not threaten much in the early going. It was not until the 56th minute that Vela put some pressure on the Honduran goal. Vela ripped a shot from outside the penalty area on goal, but Valladares did well to pounce on the ball and made the save.
Honduras mostly looked to defend and protect their lead in the second half. On rare occasions the Hondurans sent numbers forward. Even on set pieces, few Honduran players ventured into the penalty area.
Mexico's Castillo entered the match in place of Bravo and went along the right flank as Vela and Vuoso played together up front. However, Castillo immediately started arguing with an Honduran player as Castillo seemed agitated over a foul he received from Wilson Palacios. Teammate Guardado went over to try and control Castillo down, but Castillo did not listen and kept arguing with Palacios.
Honduras continued their defensive stance as Mexico controlled possession of the ball. Castillo drew a foul some 30 yards out in the 78th minute. Pardo swung a free kick into the penalty area but while the ball was in a dangerous position, no Mexican player could reach it.
Pardo picked up a yellow card in the 79th minute after knocking Danilo Turcios in the middle of the field.
Honduras put the game away on the ensuing possession. On the free kick from near the midfield line, Pavon headed the ball down to Turcios, who slipped a ball over to Costly. From just inside the penalty area, Costly knocked the ball into back of the net.
However, Mexico won a penalty kick in the 80th minute when Vela was ruled to have been fouled inside the penalty area. Replays appeared to show that Vela merely fanned on his attempt before falling, but Mexico won a spot kick. Castillo took the penalty and converted it to score his sixth goal with the national team. Honduras led 3-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Castillo continued to make his presence known on the field, however, for the wrong reasons. Castillo slammed Palacios in the ankle after Palacios had sent a ball to a teammate. Palacios lay on the ground in apparent pain while Castillo's teammates surrounded Castillo and apparently questioned his play.
Vela was booked in the 86th minute and marked the second time he'd picked up a card in a match in Honduras. In November, Vela was sent off.
Salcido was sent off in the 88th minute after he dragged Pavon down from behind. Pavon had gotten past Salcido on a counterattack and was set to go into the penalty area alone on Ochoa. Salcido knocked Pavon down and was immediately sent off.
Honduras closed out the game with the same 3-1 scoreline they enjoyed over Mexico in 2001, the last time the teams met in the Hexagonal stage in Honduras. Los Catrachos will next play the United States in Chicago on June 6 while Mexico will play at El Salvador - their third road game in four qualifiers - that same day. --