Roman Torres looked to have done it again, and done it against the odds. Then, he had it taken from him.
The 29-year-old Millionarios defender had scored the only goal of Wednesday’s Gold Cup semifinal at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to give Panama a 1-0 lead over Mexico. Torres’ goal put El Tri on the verge of elimination, after scoring the match-winner to eliminate Mexico in 2013.
[ USMNT/Jamaica: Match recap | Player ratings ]
But American referee Mark Geiger awarded Mexico a controversial 89th minute penalty kick, and then a much less controversial PK in the 104th. Andres Guardado converted both attempts, and Mexico went on to beat Panama 2-1 and advance to the Gold Cup final.
Mexico will face Jamaica on Sunday, while Panama meets the U.S. in the tournament’s third place match on Saturday.
A soft red card to Panama came early in the match, and seemed a surefire sign that Mexico was on its way to another Gold Cup final. Torres and his stingy teammates had other plans.
Luis Tejada picked up a red from American referee Mark Geiger when he went arm-first into Francisco Rodriguez’s face during a 50/50 ball. It was a foul and, in our eyes, a yellow card.
Judge for yourself:
Red card PAN – No.10 @matadortejada #GoldCup2015 #CopaOro2015 @fepafut @miseleccionmx http://t.co/FRiFnPyecg
— Gold Cup 2015 (@GoldCup) July 23, 2015
Torres put Panama up 1-0 with a second-half header, and Los Canaleros were about a half-hour away from advancing to a second-straight final. And they made it into the final minute, when Geiger made this now infamous decision.
Here’s the controversial penalty call as Roman Torres is called for handball. #GoldCup2015 http://t.co/4aSShYi9SP
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 23, 2015
Mexican fans reigned down debris on Panama players, and the match was held up for 11 minutes before Guardado stepped up to nail his first penalty kick and send the match to extra time.
After the final whistle, Panama’s entire bench charged the referee crew. They were led down the tunnel by a host of yellow-shirted security guards.