Soccer-Honduras edge closer to World Cup berth

Reuters

* Wild celebrations in country

* Honduras President congratulates team (Updates after Mexico beat Panama)

Oct 11 (Reuters) - Honduras moved to the brink of securing their place in next year's World Cup finals after beating Costa Rica 1-0 in a CONCACAF qualifier on Friday, though confirmation was put on hold when Mexico's Raul Jimenez produced a late stunning goal to give his side a tense win over Panama.

Honduras striker Jerry Bengtson scored the only goal of the match midway through the second half to clinch the victory at the Olympic Stadium in San Pedro Sula and setting off wild celebrations in the country.

The streets of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula were filled with people celebrating and waving the blue and white flag of Honduras with the knowledge they had at least secured a playoff spot before Mexico played Panama.

"I want to congratulate the boys of the national team for their win today," Honduras President Porfirio Lobo told reporters.

"This shows that Hondurans can do it when we decide to do it. We are going to Brazil! Long live Honduras!"

The result kept Honduras three points clear of Mexico, 2-1 winners over Panama, in the battle for CONCACAF's third and final automatic spot.

The United States (19) and Costa Rica (15) occupy the first two places and have already qualified for Brazil.

Honduras are already assured of at least a playoff spot, against the Oceania winners New Zealand and only need a point from their final match against Jamaica on Tuesday to reach the finals for the third time and the second in a row.

Jamaica are yet to win a match in the six-nation final round of qualifying and have no chance of advancing to Brazil after losing 2-0 to the U.S. in Kansas City on Friday. (Reporting by Julian Linden in New York and Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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