El Salvador, Guatemala battle to scoreless stalemate

(ABOVE) Action from the international friendly between Guatemala and El Salvador (white jersey) on March 31, 2015, in Carson, California.

CARSON, California -- El Salvador goalkeeper Luis Contreras made three crucial saves in the second half to preserve a 0-0 draw with Guatemala on Tuesday night in front of a capacity crowd of 27,000 at the StubHub Center. 

Contreras produced the first of those stops in the 67th minute, deflecting with both hands a drive off the foot of Marco Pappa from 17-yards out.  He prevented an own-goal in the 76th minute by leaping to his right to catch teammate Milton Molina's header off a right-sided free kick by Pappa. 

The 32-year-old custodian, though, conserved his most important play for stoppage time. 

Contreras used his right hand to thwart a 26-yard free kick from Guatemala's Jose Manuel Contreras, before pushing the ball away with his left. 

Guatemala also had three good chances to score in the first half.  In the 17th minute, Contreras charged off his line to smother Pappa's through ball to Carlos Ruiz.  Three minutes later, Ruiz intercepted a pass from Molina and embarked on a breakaway, but defender Raul Renderos nudged Ruiz off the ball, which rolled out for a goal kick. 

Then, in the 32nd minute, Pappa struck the base of the left post from 33 yards. 

The Salvadorans’ best opportunity came in the 85th minute, when an unmarked Nelson Bonilla received in the penalty area a feed from Darwin Ceren, only to be dispossessed by defender Carlos Castrillo in a one-on-one situation. 

Guatemala is winless in three matches (0W-1D-2L) since finishing as runner-up to Costa Rica in the 2014 Central American Cup, while El Salvador has won only once in its last seven outings.