The Panamanians defeated Mexico for the second time during the 2013 Gold Cup to set up a meeting with the United States in the final at Soldier Field.ARLINGTON, Texas - Mexico has been eliminated.
After losing to Panama in the Gold Cup group stage, El Tri was unable to get past the Central American nation in the semifinals, dropping a 2-1 decision at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night.
Roman Torres scored the game-winner midway through the second half to set up a date with the United States in the CONCACAF tournament's final Sunday in Chicago.
Panama's Blas Perez opened the scoring just minutes into the match and Mexico's Luis Montes provided the equalizer before halftime.
The last time Mexico lost a Gold Cup semifinal match was back in 1991. Panama has only advanced to the final once before in the team's history.
The two teams met in the opening match of Group A on July 7, with Panama earning a surprising 2-1 win over El Tri. The Central Americans were the home team on Wednesday after winning Group B.
Panama struck first to once again shock El Tri, which clearly had home-field advantage playing driving distance from the Mexican border. In the 13th minute, midfielder Alberto Quintero dished a pass to Perez on the right side of the six-yard box and the forward blasted a shot past goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.
It was the FC Dallas player's 32nd international goal and 10th in Gold Cup play during his career.
Mexico, however, wouldn't take long to bounce back and make things interesting after Panama continued to pour on the attack early. Following some fancy dribbling from Marco Fabian, the Chivas midfielder found Montes at the far post for a beautiful header into the back of the net to tie the match at one apiece.
[Player Ratings: Panama 2-1 Mexico]
Unfortunately for the pro-Mexico crowd and several CONCACAF fans who would have liked to see El Tri and the U.S. - the two highest-ranked teams from the region - battle it out in the final, that would be the only shining moment for Jose Manuel de la Torre's squad.
Panama, which cruised to a 6-1 victory over Cuba in the quarterfinals, stunned the Mexicans in the 61st minute when Roman Torres swooped in for a header off a Gabriel Torres corner kick.
In desperate need of the equalizer, Mexico had a pair of opportunities in the final 10 minutes of play. First, second-half substitute Isaac Brizuela nearly chipped the ball over Orozco, but the keeper was able to deflect it on top of the net. Then, Javier Orozco sent a header just wide of the Panama post.
They continued to push toward the end, but it wasn't enough.