In a match eerily similar to their first meeting of the Gold Cup tournament, Panama defeated Mexico 2-1 for the second straight time during Wednesday’s semifinal showdown at Cowboys Stadium.
Panama advanced to face the U.S. in the Gold Cup Final on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Panama last squared off against the U.S. in the 2005 Gold Cup finals, and lost 3-1 on penalties. It is the second appearance ever for Panama in the final.
More than two weeks ago, Mexico held the shot and possession advantage, but failed to capitalize on their opportunities. Panama would surrender an early lead, but prevailed behind Gabriel Torres’s timely strikes.
On Wednesday night it was Panamanian defender Roman Torres who saved the day.
Torres started his run deep outside Mexico’s area, and used his momentum to head in the go-ahead 2-1 goal in the 61st minute. It was the third career international goal for Torres in his 77th appearance for Panama.
Mexico would have their opportunities, but failed to breakthrough in the second half. In the 78th minute Isaac Brizuela had the best chance, when he tried to flick the ball over Panama keeper Jamie Peneno, but watched as it landed just above the goal.
Peneno was sensational in the second half, and totaled four saves throughout the match.
From an almost impossible angle on the right side of the Mexican net, forward Blas Perez opened up the scoring with a right-footed strike to bottom right corner of the net for a 1-0 Panama lead in the 13th minute.
Thirteen minutes later, Mexico forward Marco Fabian followed up a solid dribbling display in Panama’s area with a scintillating cross to Luis Montes, who evened up the match with a header from the center of the box to the top left corner of the net.
It was the second goal for Montes during the Cup, and the third goal of his short international career.
The highlights can be found below.