Panama shocked Mexico for the second time in the 2013 Gold Cup on Wednesday at Cowboys Stadium, going on to a 2-1 victory to advance to the final.
And, to think, Panama had never defeated Mexico before the 2013 Gold Cup.
Early on in the match, Mexico was defending Panama's offensive attack well, swarming the front line and making life difficult for the Canaleros. It appeared that it would be a tough night for Panama's offense.
But the tide quickly turned in the 13th minute when Alberto Quintero handled a bad giveaway by the Mexicans, adeptly feeding Blas Perez on the right side inside the box. Perez's quick shot past Jonathan Orozco on the near side suddenly gave Panama a 1-0 lead.
Fox Soccer hit us with the highlight:
In the 17th minute, Mexico threatened, as a free kick by Luis Montes found Rafael Marquez. But Marquez's attempt was too strong and sailed over the crossbar.
But, undeterred, Mexico found life in the 26th minute, as Marco Fabian's terrific cross from outside the box on the left side found Montes for a diving header past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Fox Soccer tweeted:
Both sides battled back and forth from there, with numerous crosses presenting danger but ultimately being corralled by the goalkeepers. The pace was frenetic, but there was nothing else doing.
It got a little rough in the 36th minute when Mexico's Juan Carlos Valenzuela received a yellow card for shoving Perez down on a long ball.
In a peculiar moment in the match, Panama's Gabriel Torres had to toss away a beer can thrown in his direction before a corner kick in the 42nd minute. The ensuing corner was a poor ball.
In the 45th minute, it was a Panama player who received a yellow card, as Quintero was whistled for a reckless foul on Fabian.
Both sides headed into halftime in a 1-1 draw.
After one half of play, both Mexico and Panama had tallied two shots on goal, per FoxSports.com. Panama led in corner kicks (2-1) and crosses (11-9).
To start the second half, Mexico manager Jose De La Torre sent Jorge Enriquez on the pitch for Carlos Pena.
Panama started things out much like it did in the first half, keeping possession and applying pressure on the attacking half. Perez attempted a clever back heel in the 53rd minute, but it was turned away.
Mexico's Alejandro Castro lost his composure in the 54th minute, getting whistled for a foul on Torres then kneeing Torres. Torres may have been a bit of a weasel in coaxing the foul, but Castro was unable to keep himself in check, earning a yellow card.
Fox Soccer hit us with the skirmish:
In the 59th minute, Mexico's Miguel Layun was whistled for a foul, giving Panama a free kick. Gabriel Torres' ensuing kick found Roman Torres, but the latter's bicycle kick flew over the crossbar.
But that was only a preview of what was to come.
Two minutes later, Roman Torres got past Mexico's Joel Huiqui off a Gabriel Torres corner kick and headed the ball into the net on a bounce.
Panama had another 2-1 lead in the 61st minute.
Fox Soccer tweeted:
FoxSports.com reported during the match that the attendance at Cowboys Stadium was 81,410. It marked the largest crowd ever in a Gold Cup semifinal match held in the United States.
That made Panama's effort even more impressive, considering it was expected that the crowd in Texas would be predominantly for Mexico.
In the 72nd minute, Mexico's Isaac Brizuela was subbed in for Rafael Marquez.
In the 73rd minute, Montes gave Panama a scare, shaking free on an impressive run before knuckling the ball just wide of the far post.
Mexico continued to test Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, ramping up its efforts with time ticking by.
In the 79th minute, late sub Brizuela had a chance to score off a long kick by Jonathan Orozco and a deflected pass by Javier Orozco, but his chip was sent just above the crossbar by Penedo's fingertips.
Fox Soccer tweeted:
The action continued to be furious down the stretch, as Panama tried to hold on amid numerous Mexico attacks.
In the end, Panama did hold on, as two-time defending champion Mexico was stunned and sent home before the final.
Panama advanced to its first Gold Cup final since 2005. Interestingly enough, the 2005 final was against the United States. USA won that battle off penalty kicks.
Panama and the United States play in the 2013 Gold Cup final on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.
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