Escober makes key saves; Honduras, Australia draw in WCQ playoff opener
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Goalkeeper Donis Escober (pictured) was outstanding for host Honduras in the World Cup Qualifying intercontinental playoff, first leg against Australia on November 10, 2017, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. (Photo: Mexsport)

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – Goalkeeper Donis Escober made a pair of key saves to help host Honduras draw 0-0 with Australia in the opener of their intercontinental playoff for a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.

The second leg will be played on November 15 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

A closely-contested match saw the Australians produce the better chances, but those were either denied by Escober or missed the net.

In the 12th minute, Escober did well to parry left Massimo Luongo’s low-footed effort from 11-yards out.

Tomi Juric should have put the visitor into the lead in the 34th minute, but after heel-flicking the ball to himself, the FC Luzern forward shot agonizingly wide of the right post with only Escober to beat.

The Olimpia custodian was on the top of his game nine minutes into the second half, demonstrating quick reflexes to save a Juric header.

Honduras’ best opportunity came in the 82nd minute, when a drive off the left foot of second-half substitute Carlo Costly was palmed over the crossbar by goalkeeper Maty Ryan.

Matters will be settled in five days as the Central American champion bids for a third straight World Cup berth.

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