EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Facing a penalty kick with 15 minutes left in regulation and the game tied, Honduras' Noel Valladares was willing to do anything to distract Alvaro Saborio of Costa Rica — so the goalkeeper argued about the placement of the ball.
He argued so much, referee Roberto Moreno of Panama gave him a yellow card. The delay worked.
Valladares made a diving stop on Saborio's penalty kick in the 75th minute and Honduras advanced to the Gold Cup semifinals by making all four of its tiebreaker penalty kicks in a quarterfinal victory Saturday night.
"I've felt the emotions of scoring a goal for my country, but you can't compare it to stopping a PK," Valladares said after Honduras advanced to the Gold Cup semifinals for the second straight time and fourth overall. "I've lived (stopping PKs) more, and I've felt it more."
The Catrachos won because of their ability to convert from the penalty spot.
Carlo Costly, Victor Bernardez, Wilson Palacios and Jerry Bengston all connected on the penalty kicks after 120 minutes of play at the New Meadowlands Stadium left the Central American rivals tied at 1.
Costa Rica, which has never beaten Honduras in the Gold Cup, saw penalty kicks by Celso Borges and Saborio hit off the crossbar in being outscored 4-2 in the game-deciding penalty kicks.
Costa Rican coach Ricardo La Volpe said his team never works on penalty kick in practice.
"I just don't believe in it," he said. "I was a player, I've been a coach for a long time. And I know I don't have to teach anybody how to kick a PK. They already know how. You just have to have the mentality and discipline to put the ball in the net. Look, if we qualified (for the semifinal), we wouldn't be talking about this."
La Volpe was more upset with Honduras' play, which he called "dirty."
"You guys saw the game," he said. "From every point of view, I saw a lot of dirty plays. It happens the fourth, fifth time, you start to think."
Honduran coach Luis Fernando Suarez wouldn't respond to La Volpe' accusations.
Bengston scored in the 49th minute for Honduras, and Dennis Marshall tied it for Costa Rica on a corner kick in the 56th minute.
Valladares, the Honduran captain, made the biggest play of the game after Moreno awarded a penalty kick for a very questionable foul on Bernardez against Marco Urena.
After getting a yellow card, Valladares dove to his right to make the save.
"The blocked PK helped us tremendously and enabled us to finish off the match," Valladares said. "It was well worth the yellow card. You have to distract the kicker."
It not only kept the game tied, but it was one 43rd-ranked Honduras desperately needed it because its players seemed to run out of gas in the second half and the overtime.
Outshot 12-4 in the opening half, Costa Rica outshot Honduras 15-9 in the final 75 minutes.
However, it failed to convert three times from the penalty spot, including twice in the penalty kick phase.
Bengston's third goal of the tournament came when he deposited the rebound of a shot by Javier Portillo into a wide open net.
Roger Espinoza started the play with a long pass up that put Portillo behind Costa Rican defender Jose Salvatierra on the left edge of box. Portillo dribbled into the penalty area and unleashed a shot that forced goalkeeper Keylor Navas to make a kick save. The rebound went to a wide open Bengston.
No. 56-ranked Costa Rica tied it 7 minutes later on a corner kick. Cristian Bolanos floated the kick across the goal and ponytailed defender Dennis Marshall elevated and headed the ball down and bounced it into the net past Valladares, one of five starters in the lineup from Honduras' World Cup team.
Honduras had a chance to win the game in injury time but Marshall stopped a weak shot by Oscar Boniek Garcia after a crossing pass by late substitute Carlo Costly ended up on his foot with Navas out of position.
Each team had one chance in the 30-minute overtime with Navas making the toughest save, parrying a deflected shot by Garcia over the crossbar in the 115th minute.