Panama defeated Mexico 2-1 in the semifinal of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Cowboys stadium in Dallas in front of 81,410 mostly Mexican fans. Since June 7, 2013 Panama has maintained dominance over el Tri, beginning with the 0-0 World Cup Qualifier at the Romulo Fernandez stadium in Panama City, Panama. Like it is becoming a custom, the fans began to chant “fuera Chepo!” or “Chepo out!” as the game came to a close.
The real hero of the game was Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo who kept the Mexican attack at bay. El Tri maintained a 51% possession during the game, but could not get the ball in the net. Despite keeping possession, they never really controlled the game and gave up too many spaces for a speedy Panamanian team that enjoyed the room available to them.
It took 13 minutes for Blas Perez to put the ball in the net for the Canaleros. The FC Dallas striker easily beat out Jonathan Orozco to give the Central Americans the 1-0. Panama fell back to defend waiting on a counterstrike.
Luis Montes closed the gap in the 25th minute with a surprise goal. The goal forced the Panamanians to defend themselves. For the remainder of the half Panama kept an eight man defense with only the strikers up front waiting for the counterstrike opportunity. Mexico applied pressure but the imprecisions prevented El Tri from making a difference on the pitch.
The night fell apart for Mexico when a combination from Gabriel and Roman Torres gave Panama the 2-1 advantage. The players maneuvered past Joel Huiqui and Roman took the shot to seal the game.
The Panamanians once again fell back. For the remaining 29 minutes they gave up control of the ball to Mexico who attacked but still could not make a difference. Montes had an opportunity to close the gap, but Penedo was there to keep the scoreboard from changing.
Mexico coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre made a last ditch effort to even the score and force overtime. He brought in Isaac Brizuela and Javier “Chuletita” Orozco for more scoring options. Brizuela had the best opportunity to extend the game with a shot. However, Penedo was able to defend his net once more. The final minutes ticked and Mexico increased their attack. Panama had completely given control of the ball to the Mexicans as the entire team fell back to protect the lead. With Panama defending well and Mexico unable to put the ball in the net, the fans began to chant, “Fuera Chepo!”
Time ran out for Mexico, Panama prevailed winning their second game against El Tri in their history. They won their second encounter against the “giant” of CONCACAF in back-to-back games and extended their undefeated streak against Mexico to three games. Panama will face the United States on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.