TEGUCIGALPA Jan 27 El Salvador qualified for this year's CONCACAF Gold Cup despite losing 2-0 to neighbours Honduras in a qualifying match.
Striker Carlos Pavon put Honduras ahead with a penalty in the 33rd minute after a foul on Emil Martinez and substitute Marvin Chavez rifled in a 30-metre shot midway through the second half of Monday's game.
Honduras, who had already qualified, finished Central American Group A with a 100 percent record despite being unable to field European-based players including midfielder Wilson Palacios, striker David Suazo and defender Maynor Figueroa.
They could not be released because the qualifiers, which are all being played in Honduras, fall outside the dates allocated for internationals by soccer's world governing body FIFA.
El Salvador held on to second place after Nicaragua could manage only a 1-1 draw with Belize in the other match.
Nicaragua finished third with two points and will play off against Guatemala or Panama -- who meet on Tuesday to decide the runner-up in Group B -- for another place in the finals.
Costa Rica have already qualified as Group B winners.
The Gold Cup will be held in the United States in July. The hosts, Mexico and Canada qualify automatically while Jamaica, Grenada, Guadeloupe and Cuba have gone through from the Caribbean zone.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Buenos Aires; editing by Ken Ferris)