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Guatemala, Nicaragua draw in Copa opener
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Guatemala and Nicaragua opened the 2013 UNCAF Copa Centroamericana with a Group A dual that ended in a 1-1 stalemate Friday at the Estadio Nacional.

After some initial bright moments from the Chapines in the early going, Nicaragua settled in and played attractive football.

The first best chance for Nicaragua came in the 35th minute, when veteran attacker Samuel Wilson pounded a free kick towards goal from 30 yards. Guatemalan goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez, though, was up to the challenge, supplying a diving save.

Five minutes later, Nicaragua broke through on another set piece. Manuel Rosas whipped in a ball from the left that Alvarez could only parry away in front of goal. Defender Josue Quijano was first to the spot, and after bouncing an initial shot off Alvarez, he deposited the rebound for the 1-0 lead that lasted into the break.

Guatemalan coach Hugo Almeida, who had already brought on Juan Jose Valenzuela midway through the first half, made his final two changes at the half, bringing on Minor Lopez and Sergio Trujillo.

The rhythm slowed down considerably in second stanza, with the Pinoleros attempting to defend their lead. Sustained pressure from the Guatemalans, however, finally paid off in the 66th minute.

Left back David Espinoza collected a loose ball on the left side of the box and sliced a cross through the middle of the area. Defender Marlon Medina slid in an attempt to clear, but directed the ball into his own goal.

Both teams pushed hard for a winner, but despite a wide open finish, neither could find a second goal.

After six wins and a loss, the draw was Guatemala's first against Nicaragua in eight all-time Copa Centroamericana games.

Guatemala now takes on Belize on Sunday, while Nicaragua faces host Costa Rica.

 
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