EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After 120 minutes in sweltering heat at MetLife Stadium, penalties were needed to decide a winner, and Panama outlasted Trinidad & Tobago to stay alive in the Gold Cup.
Panama will face the winner of Mexico vs. Costa Rica on Wednesday, July 22, in the semifinals.
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With temperatures in the mid-90’s and over 100 degrees on the pitch, the match got off to a slow start as both teams battled the heat. At the half hour mark the sides took a cooling break after a relatively uneventful stretch of play.
There must have been something in the water as Panama came out of the break and found the back of the net just minutes later. Sheldon Bateau failed to clear the box for T&T as his attempt deflected right to the feet of Luis Tejada, who made no mistake with his finish to put Panama ahead 1-0.
Most of Trinidad & Tobago’s attack went through Kenwyne Jones, as the big striker was positioned up high on the last Panamanian defender. Jones nearly found a goal for T&T right before the half, but his diving header at the back post went just wide.
In the second half, Jones atoned for his earlier miss with an equalizer for T&T in the 54th minute. Khaleem Hyland hit in a free kick that Jones rose up and got his head to, beating Jaime Penedo to make it 1-1.
After the goal from Jones, the Soca Warriors didn’t create much offense the rest of the match. Panama pushed forward in the final minutes, but FC Dallas’ Blaz Perez missed a golden opportunity in the 91st minute as the match headed into extra-time.
Panama had the better of play in the first 15 minutes of extra time and really put on the pressure in the second frame, but a valid penalty shout was ignored by the referee as a shootout was needed to decide a winner.
The shootout would last nine rounds, as both sides put in a far from impressive performance from the penalty spot. Tied 3-3 through the first five rounds, the penalties went into sudden death and after Marvin Phillip stopped Alberto Quintero, Daniel Cyrus had a chance to win it for T&T. But the defender skied his shot over the bar as the shootout went on.
Lester Peltier needed to scored for Trinidad to keep the Soca Warriors alive, but his shot was deflected by Jaime Penedo up and off the crossbar, sending Panama to the Gold Cup semifinals.Follow @KyleLynchFC