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WC Qualification CONCACAF

  • October 16, 2013
  • • 09:30
  • • Estadio Rommel Fernández Gutiérrez, Ciudad de Panamá
  • Referee: C. Campbell
  • • Attendance: 18254

Panama 2-3 USA: Young Americans rally late in final qualifier

Panama 2-3 USA: Young Americans rally late in final qualifier

Dave Kaup

The visitors did arch-rivals Mexico a favour by scoring twice in the closing minutes through Graham Zusi and Aron Johansson and eliminating the hosts from the World Cup

In arguably the strangest night in the history of Concacaf football, Mexico fans were forced to rooting for arch-rivals United States and were rewarded when a late turnaround saw the visitors beat Panama 3-2.

Trailing their hosts by a goal late in their final World Cup qualifier in Panama City, Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson stunned the Canaleros to give their neighbours south of the border another chance in a play-off against New Zealand in November.

The result eliminated Panama from World Cup qualifying, the Central Americans having entered the night needing a win and a Mexico defeat in order to stay alive.

The hosts looked well on their way to a victory when Luis Tejada raced in to bury a chance in the 83rd minute but USA had one more rally left. Zusi soared into the Panama penalty area and headed home a perfect cross from Brad Davis to tie the match in the second minute of stoppage time.

Before the home side could respond to the stunning equaliser, Johannsson provided the final dagger, belting a low shot from distance to secure the victory and save Mexico on a night when El Tri lost to Costa Rica and left their qualifying hopes up to their rivals.

Panama had opened the scoring in the 18th minute, with Colorado Rapids' Gabriel Torres hitting a hard, low shot past Brad Guzan. They nearly made it two but for the American keeper, who made a vital one-handed save in the 55th minute.

With Costa Rica taking a second-half lead over Mexico, the hosts were well aware that a win would mean qualifying survival and Tejada appeared to provide the winner but the Americans had other ideas and pulled off the comeback to finish the Hexagonal section with a record 22 points.